Before I read, or reread, the 40 stories in the new Everyman's Library edition of Lorrie Moore's short fiction, I would have said I was sure I knew which was one was best. Now my suspicion is confirmed. "People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk" is a stunning, heart-wrenching story about a mother who finds a blood clot in her baby's diaper, about the circle of hell known as the pediatric oncology ward, and about the process of writing about one's own tragedies. When it was first published in the New Yorker in 1997, three people tried to fax me the whole thing in one day. … [Read more...] about Book World: Reading Lorrie Moore – again or anew – you’ll feel like she really knows you
Sorry wrong number book
The Viet Nam Conflict of the 60s and 70s divided the nations of both Viet Nam and the United States as well as dividing many families: the one depicted in Bringing Vincent Home is no exception. The (fictional) Duvalls of Baltimore represent us all: they are a microcosm of our county during that era, superimposed on a highly individualized story of one soldier, wounded in action. The Duvalls represent those who are single mothers in the 50s and 60s, war protestors, writers for the Baltimore Sun, pre-med majors, good Catholics, athletes, nurses and nurses in training, doctors, burn victims, and, of course, soldiers. … [Read more...] about Book Review: Bringing Vincent Home, part 1 (local author)
BlackBerry wasn’t the first to let smartphone owners choose the best faces in a group shot (that honor goes to Samsung). But I like the way the TimeShift camera handles this capability better. By moving a little dial backward and forward in time, you get more control. No more blinking. BlackBerry also deserves credit for its Photo Editor, which lets you preview Instagram-like special effects in real time via a nifty slider. … [Read more...] about 5 reasons the BlackBerry bashers are wrong
Now almost 80, Calasso, the publisher of Adelphi Edizioni in Milan, has been called "a literary institution of one." In 1983, he embarked on an ambitious project to explore the forces that drive civilization. "The Celestial Hunter" is the eighth volume in the series that began with "The Ruin of Kasch," which examines Romantic nationalism and the rise of the modern state but is really about, in the words of Italo Calvino, "all the things that have happened in human history." Called a "master of obliquity," Calasso has a style that is at times obscure and impenetrable; unlike most writers of contemporary nonfiction, he never explicitly articulates his point - giving you the wild feeling of swimming in the open ocean. … [Read more...] about Book World: A discursive contemplation of gods and hunters, guilt and theater
The new novel, "The Death of Jesus," takes place about two years later. David, now 10, is an accomplished dancer and soccer player. Dr. Julio Fabricante, the director of a local orphanage, aggressively recruits David away from his "parents." "To be an orphan, at the deepest level, is to be alone in the world. So in a sense we are all orphans," he remarks. David leaves Simón and Inés, moving into the orphanage. Before long, however, the boy comes down with a "mystery disease" and is taken to the hospital. A long vigil ensues, the outcome of which - spoiler alert - is telegraphed by the novel's title. In the hospital, David is briefly reunited with the creepy but magnetic Dmitri, who, having completed psychiatric treatment there, is now an orderly. Dmitri claims that David imparted "a message" to him before dying. But, in a letter to Simón, Dmitri admits, "the content of the message is still obscure. . . . David himself may have been the message." … [Read more...] about Book World: ‘The Death of Jesus’ completes J.M. Coetzee’s nativity-inspired trilogy. But what does it all mean?