WCBE

Literature

Literature

Underground Airlines will start a lot of conversations. A lot.

The book's narrator is an African-American man living in a near-future United States in which slavery has never been entirely eliminated ("Big Abe," meaning President-elect Lincoln, was shot early in his campaign, and several Southern states amended the Constitution to retain it).

There aren't many lucky people in the fictional Jamaican town of River Bank, the setting for Nicole Dennis-Benn's debut novel Here Comes the Sun. A long drought has robbed many residents of their livelihoods, and their homes are being threatened by developers who want to build yet another huge resort, one where rich, white tourists can sequester themselves away from the reality of the poverty-stricken villages that surround it.

'Faith' Makes Fat A Force To Reckon With

Jul 6, 2016

It's got to be said: The costume is ... not great. Faith, the plus-sized superhero starring in her debut volume from Valiant Comics, is a "psiot" who fights crime armed with the powers of flight and telekinesis. Unfortunately, she does it wearing a sort of half-coat, half-smock in the toothpastey palette of white with blue trim. Her matching white pants and plain white boots evoke a snowsuit. Faith's costume is so graceless, it almost seems like the work of an artist who's channeling unspoken fatophobia.

Robert F. Kennedy is often remembered as a liberal icon who worked to heal racial strife, decrease poverty and end the war in Vietnam. But biographer Larry Tye says the New York senator was actually a political operative whose views changed over time.

"Throughout his life, [Kennedy] paid attention to what went right and wrong," Tye tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "He grew by actually seeing things up close; he took things to heart in ways that few politicians do."

Thrillers have a long, honored tradition of turning germs into monsters. But from Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain on up, such novels have speculated about microorganisms in a way that pales compared to the monstrosities that humans inflict on each other — especially when faced with the threat of lethal infection, one of the most primal fears we have. Dana I. Wolff — also known as mystery author J.E. Fishman — toys with this dynamic in his new novel The Prisoner of Hell Gate.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin learns about literature with some unlikely scholars in Mikita Brottman’s The Maximum Security Book Club.

Title: The Maximum Security Book Club

Author: Mikita Brottman

Pages: 228

Publisher: Harper

ISBN: 978-0062384331

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Nicole Dennis-Benn's debut novel takes readers to a Jamaica that tourists rarely visit. "This is no paradise. At least not for us," she writes.

The characters in Here Comes the Sun are working-class women. They struggle with money, sexuality and the pressures of tourism squeezing their small community of River Bank.

A few weeks ago, I went back to the federal prison in Seagoville, Texas, for another conversation with Edgar Diaz.

'The Big Sheep' Plays Hardboiled Sci-Fi To The Hilt

Jun 29, 2016

It's not hard to parse the two main influences on Robert Kroese's new novel The Big Sheep. The title itself mashes them up: Raymond Chandler's 1939 hardboiled masterpiece The Big Sleep and Philip K. Dick's 1968 post-apocalyptic classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the basis of the film Blade Runner). The question is: Does Kroese's book transcend the obviousness of that literary portmanteau? Thankfully, yes.

In Persona, Genevieve Valentine introduced us to a world in which diplomats are celebrities on the covers of glossy magazines, and in which paparazzi wage a guerilla war against the status quo by ruffling the smooth, sanctioned narratives of the International Assembly with candid shots obtained through illegal surveillance.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin seeks out family with a crime boss and a wannabe gangster in the latest Justice novel, Dead End Fix, by T. E. Woods.

Title: Dead End Fix (Justice Novel #6)

Author: T. E. Woods

Pages: 290

Publisher: Alibi

AISN: B018CHA304

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

The Toast — funny and literary feminist website, gleeful kneecapper of high culture, omphalos of cheerful misandry, and habitat of the rare courteous and informative comments section — is closing.

"No matter how long they've been there, the people who live out here believe that whatever life demands of them they can meet it on their own," writes Larry Watson in his new novel, As Good as Gone. "Here" is the badlands of eastern Montana, a famously desolate and unforgiving region; those who inhabit it tend to learn self-reliance quickly, and by necessity.

Despite its ever-controversial sexism, The Taming of the Shrew remains one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies — in both the original and its many modern adaptations, including Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate. And now Anne Tyler, as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series of novels based on the major plays, has tamed the Bard's shrewish battle of the sexes into a far more politically correct screwball comedy of manners that actually channels Jane Austen more than Shakespeare. It's clear that she had fun with Vinegar Girl, and readers will too.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin tracks down a stalker with a team of bodyguards in the audio edition of Always Watching by Lynette Eason.

Title: Always Watching (Elite Guardians #1)

Author: Lynette Eason

Runtime: 8 hours, 31 minutes

Publisher: Tantor Audio

AISN: B01AWZ6YS4

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

The mechanics of DC Comics' latest relaunch of its superhero line — precisely which books are returning to their original numbering, and the fact that several titles will now be published twice monthly, etc. — have engendered much discussion among retailers and collectors.

But let's talk big picture.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that superhero universes periodically reshuffle their narrative decks. The in-story explanations differ in often tortuous ways, but the only true driver is sales. Or, rather, a lack of them.

Before we even begin to talk about Naomi Novik's beloved alt-history/fantasy Temeraire series — which concludes this month with League of Dragons — we have to look at the numbers. The first book in the series, Her Majesty's Dragon, came out in 2006. League of Dragons is the ninth. That means over the past ten years, Novik has written upwards of 3,500 pages of the Temeraire series, which at this point probably ought to be called a saga.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin relives the days leading up to a widely-reported tragedy with Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall.

Title: Before the Fall

Author: Noah Hawley

Pages: 349

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

ISBN: 978-1455561780

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Ren Warom's Escapology is a loud book. It thumps and howls and whistles and squirms. It's a twitchy thing — won't sit still for a second. It makes no sense sometimes. It's derivative and odd, big and intimate at the same time, clunky and uneven and trope-heavy and manages to be both 2016 post-genre original and totally late '80s cyberpunk samizdat page to page, sometimes line to line.

Science fiction is known for speculating on technology, but it's always been just as passionate about politics. From Philip K.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin returns to fairy tale land with a couple of modern-day kids in author Sarah Mlynowski’s If the Shoe Fits

Title: If the Shoe Fits (Whatever After #2)

Author: Sarah Mlynowski

Runtime: 3 hours, 10 minutes

Publisher: Scholastic Audio

AISN: B00HZ7GAIW

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

What is it with poets and birds? Edgar Allan Poe had his raven. Ted Hughes had his crow. Wallace Stevens his blackbird. Keats his nightingale. Helen MacDonald her hawk. For Emily Dickinson, hope was the thing with feathers.

"Antiquities have rough afterlives."

The Koh i Noor diamond is back in the news this spring, including a telling quote about it from 2010, when Prime Minister David Cameron explained his decision not to return the diamond: "If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty."

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin hits the campaign trail with Matthew S. Hiley’s outrageous political farce The Candidates.

Title: The Candidates

Author: Matthew S. Hiley

Pages: 193

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

ISBN: 978-1626342682

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

"Too Tough to Die." Those words are tattooed on Cass Neary, the antihero of Elizabeth Hand's crime-novel series that began with Generation Loss and continued with Available Dark and the new Hard Light. Where those words are inked — and why Cass chose to put them there — is one of the many jagged, tragic details that make the series so compelling: In the early '80s, at the age of 23, Cass was stabbed and raped. Her tattoo covers the scar she incurred that night — and in a perverse way, it also proudly tags it. (Not that she dwells on it.)

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin packs her bags for an emotional summer at the beach with The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews.

Title: The Weekenders

Author: Mary Kay Andrews

Pages: 409

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

ISBN: 978-1250065940

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Sherman Alexie's new children's book stars Thunder Boy Smith, a little boy who was named after his dad. "People call him Big Thunder," the boy says of his father. "That nickname is a storm filling up the sky. People call me Little Thunder. That nickname makes me sound like a burp or a fart." Over the course of Thunder Boy Jr., the boy emerges from his dad's shadow to become his own person.

A young schoolteacher named Adina arrives at her apartment in an unnamed Romanian town. She immediately notices an odd detail: A fox-fur hearth rug she has owned for years has had its tail cut off. She next comes home to discover a hind leg severed from the pelt, and once more to find another leg removed. What in the world? In this particular world no detail is without meaning, and all meanings are potentially lethal. It is the late 1980s, in the Panopticon security state of Nicolae Ceausescu, and the mutilated rug convinces Adina that Big Brother is closing in on her.

South Korean author Han Kang was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for fiction for her dark novel The Vegetarian at a London ceremony on Monday.

The novel, Han's first to be translated into English, is about a woman who decides to stop eating meat and wants to become a tree. Her decision has devastating consequences and raises concerns among family members that she is mentally ill.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin spends a holiday weekend on the case with Claire Malloy in Pride v. Prejudice by Joan Hess

Title: Pride v. Prejudice (Claire Malloy Mysteries #20)

Author: Joan Hess

Pages: 306

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

ISBN: 978-1250081179

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

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