Past Stories

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Green Your Blues Away

Early in his newest book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman includes a quotation from French poet Paul Valéry, which could be the book’s epigraph: “The trouble with our times is that the ...


Che: A Graphic Biography by Spain Rodriguez

The bearded visage of Ernesto “Che” Guevara is ubiquitous, gazing out from t-shirts and posters found in dorm rooms throughout the world. What the image stands for is documented in Che, veteran cartoonist Spain Rodriguez’...


Read This!

We read dozens of books each year, a number that we guess totals less than one-tenth-of-one-percent of all the books published in that time. So the idea of a top-ten list coming from a single reader seems more than a…



Rogues’ Gallery

The recent HBO series John Adams—and, more fully, David McCullough’s book from which it was adapted—suggests our first Vice President was a difficult, arrogant and unsightly man prone to be disagreeable with his wife, his...


Hearts Too Narrow

Pop quiz: you’re at a party and a guy in math-rock glasses and pants that might be his girlfriend’s starts talking to you about reiki and why High Life is so much better than MGD, and before long he pulls…


Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle

Life under military rule is an absurd mix of the comic and the tragic. Cartoonist Delisle, whose previous books document trips to North Korea and China, spent 14 months in Burma—now the self-proclaimed Myanmar—beginning in ...



Asian Apocalypse

The Japanese hold a unilateral monopoly when it comes to bleak, apocalyptic utopias. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, especially when these visions force us to confront our own societal demons. With Tekkonkinkreet (pub...


Reality Check

MTV’s long-running reality show The Real World tosses a group of contrasting strangers together and then steps back to watch what happens. Natsuo Kirino’s novel Real World throws a killer into the lives of four young Japane...


Who Can Save Us Now?

Had your fill of superheroes? Not, we’ll guess, the kind that crowd that pages of this high flying collection. These superheroes are conflicted, confused and, like the rest of us, limited in what they can do. In these unlikel...



Kill Brill: Paul Auster’s Man in the Dark

Paul Auster is our literary Two Face, a writer whose split creative personality produces two types of novels. Flip a coin. Heads is the Jolly Uncle Paulie of The Brooklyn Follies, a life-affirming spinner of yarns whose plots a...


Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s by Philip K. Dick

Science fiction author Philip K. Dick wasn’t as interested in the future of technology as he was in how the human mind would respond to it. Existential problems and questions of sanity are his themes. Five Novels, like its pr...


The Loneliest Hunter: David Foster Wallace 1962-2008

The most deserving deceased are rarely the most eulogized; nurses, mothers, the teachers of young children, those who served the disabled, heroes with hearts bigger than their wallets: these are the everyday saints whose deaths...



The Flowers by Dagoberto Gilb

Sonny Bravo is an all-American boy. He likes pizza and titty magazines, hates his step dad, loves the girl next door and loses his virginity to the one upstairs. His school buddies are twin nerds. Sonny’s also a petty thief&h...


Why We’re Liberals: A Political Handbook For Post-Bush America by Eric Alterman

The term “liberal” has been poisoned in the last 30 years. No matter that the vast majority of Americans support liberal policies—be it on legal abortion, health care, minimum wage, foreign policy or regulation of renegad...


Shadows In Black and White

The five stories in Leah Hayes’ hard-to-categorize collection are a sort of noir fairy tale, dark parables with strange, hazy lessons, fables with a touch of the horrific. Illustrated in scratchboard (you may remember this te...



Red Car

Literature, more often than not, is in the subtleties. Sallie Bingham has a made a 40-year-career of quietly engaging prose that graces heavy themes with soft, thoughtful whispers and patient dissection—a concentrated approac...


The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food

Forget apple pie. Chop suey is America’s national food, or was until Kung pao chicken took its place. Jennifer Lee’s study of transplanted Asian cooking is a wide-angle view of the way America absorbs its immigrants even as...


Diablerie

Even when we like them, we don’t always admire the characters in Walter Mosley’s fiction. Ben Dibbuk is no exception. A former hard-drinking, skirt-chasing angry young man, Ben has fallen into a rut thanks to a regular job ...



Armageddon In Retrospect, Kurt Vonnegut

As a foot soldier and prisoner in Word War II, Kurt Vonnegut experienced pointless cruelties and the absurdities of military life. This posthumous collection contains 11 never-before-published short pieces on war as well as his...


Pictures At a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

Mark Harris’ account of the making of the five “Best Picture” nominees from 1967 is an epic tale of art, business and character. The films represent old Hollywood’s formulaic approach to creativity (Doctor Dolittle), it...


Summer Reading

Rachel Donaido’s recent New York Times essay—“It’s Not You, It’s Your Books”—ignited the passions of the reading class. Are we literate types so narrow-minded that finding the wrong book on our potential beloved...



Sway

Zachary Lazar’s entrancing second novel takes real people—Brian Jones and the Rolling Stones, underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger, Charles Manson and small-time musician Bobby Beausoleil—and imagines what went through the...


My Revolutions

Living underground to avoid arrest suggests two stories: the crimes that force one to disappear and the circumstances that pull one back into the light. Kunzru’s novel of an English political radical in the 1960s runs these t...


The Invention Of Everything Else

Turn-of-the 20th-century inventor/physicist Nikolas Telsa has seen a revival lately. David Bowie played him in the 2006 magicians’ rivalry movie The Prestige. And there’s an electric car company named in his honor. Now ther...



The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Books Scare and How It Changed America

Before slasher films, rap music and Internet porn, even before rock & roll, self-righteous America found cause for juvenile delinquency in comic books. Columbia journalism professor David Hajdu unearths the forgotten 1950s ...


Graphic Lessons

What if you learned something about yourself that was really terrible, completely contrary to what you believed of yourself; how would you react? That’s the dilemma facing Happy—yes, the name’s ironic—in Chip Kidd’s s...


Freedom Train

“Becoming a hobo goes far beyond dropping out. That something is part strength, part weakness, both pure freedom and an absolute prison.”      –Dale Maharidge, The Last Great American Hobo quoted by William T. Vollmann...



Judge of Character

It’s the commonly used coffeehouse criteria to define enjoyable fiction: “I identified with the characters.” If we recognize ourselves or others we know in a story, we’re more susceptible to being drawn in. But the char...