• print • Apr/May 2007

    Magical History Tour

    Creation myths fascinate us because they point to the time when things began to become as they are, and so suggest that we might go back and choose a different, better path. "The universe comes to be at the moment when God wills it to be," John Crowley writes in Endless Things, the concluding volume of his four-part series, Ægypt. "It never existed before that moment, and after that moment it always did." Now that the series is finally complete, this is rather how Ægypt—twenty years in the making—itself feels: as if it had been there all along, and Crowley had merely come along to point it out

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    Soup to Mutts

    Forget Internet dating: Any city dweller who's spent an afternoon walking a cute pup down the street will tell you that owning a dog is the surest way to make and sustain a connection. In Cathleen Schine's meringue-light new novel The New Yorkers, canines of all shapes, sizes, and degrees of lovability unite a disparate collection of Manhattanites living on the same charming, rent-controlled street, an easy dog walk from Central Park. It's an ordinary Upper West Side street that escaped gentrification, a street where people moved after graduating college and never left."There are no mansions

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    That Clare Clark is the author of a critically acclaimed first novel titled The Great Stink should make perfect sense to readers of her second offering. Set largely in the malodorous backstreets and poorly ventilated chambers of early-eighteenth-century London, The Nature of Monsters, like its predecessor (which explores the city's sewers a century later), is a distinctly pungent reading experience—one in which the "powerful stink of pig shit and rotting refuse" mingles with foul-smelling tisanes, decomposing elixirs, and canals choked with "dung and dead cats" to form an olfactory edifice so

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    The boy protagonist in Phil LaMarche's roiling debut novel, American Youth, is tough and lonely in the manner of Russell Banks's lost-kid hero in Rule of the Bone. Ted LeClare's detachment from his peers is set against the backdrop of his family's—and the region's—economic dislocation, and LaMarche renders the culturally barren New England landscape with language that is both portentous and propulsive.

    Ted's first days of high school are up­ended by his role in the tragic death of a friend. Emotionally reclusive even before the accident, the boy begins a downward spiral that is interrupted

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  • print • June/July/Aug/Sept 2006

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  • print • June/July/Aug/Sept 2006

    DEAD CALM

    Roberto Bolaño died (of liver failure) in 2003 at the age of fifty; he died in Spain, exiled from his birthplace, Chile. Much remains mysterious about his life. He had bad teeth. As a child he was diagnosed with dyslexia. He was arrested by Pinochet’s police. He wrote two impossibly long novels——his last, called 2666, is over one thousand pages long——and many poems; neither of the novels, and none of the poems, as far as I know, has yet appeared in English translation. He remains, for readers marooned in English, an unfolding discovery: New Directions, our savior, has published his two aria-like

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  • print • June/July/Aug/Sept 2006

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  • print • June/July/Aug/Sept 2006

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