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Literature

Literature

Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, there is a bronze chest filled with gold and precious gems. The search for this hidden treasure has become a hobby for some, an obsession for others, and for one recent searcher — a fatal pursuit.

The man behind the treasure is Forrest Fenn, an 85-year-old millionaire, former Vietnam fighter pilot, self-taught archaeologist, and successful art dealer in Santa Fe, N.M.

"No one knows where that treasure chest is but me," Fenn says. "If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes in the coffin with me."

There is a righteous, deep-felt fury I sometimes experience when reading stupendously good work. How dare you, I shout at the author, dropping the book, pacing for a while, how dare you make me feel so much. I rant on Twitter. I joke about how the author must be stopped.

Mischa Berlinski's Haiti is a terrible place. His Haiti is a beautiful place. In his new novel, Peacekeeping, Haiti is either the best or the worst place, all depending on the day, the moment, the observer.

Most writers would give everything they own to have just one masterpiece to their name. British author Helen Oyeyemi is barely 31, and she already has at least three of them. That includes her last two novels, Mr. Fox and Boy, Snow, Bird, both of which received extensive critical acclaim in the U.S. and around the world.

It also includes her latest book, the short story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. The book contains the same sly humor, gorgeous writing and magical characters as her previous efforts. It is, in a word, flawless.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin returns to the magical summer camp at Earth Ranch with Pseudonymous Bosch’s Bad Luck

Title: Bad Luck (The Bad Books, #2)

Author: Pseudonymous Bosch

Pages: 183

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0316320429

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

What would the United States be without its immigrants? Imagine no pizza, no New York City Ballet, no Saul Bellow — and no new waves of talented émigré authors helping us to see American culture from fresh angles. With his first novel, A Replacement Life, Boris Fishman (who came to the United States from Belarus in 1988 when he was nine) staked himself a spot in the impressive lineup of immigrant writers born in the former Soviet Union.

Novelist Pat Conroy, who announced last month that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer, has died, according to a statement from his publisher. Conroy was 70.

He announced his diagnosis on Facebook almost three weeks ago, saying "I intend to fight it hard."

Today's statement from Todd Doughty, executive director of publicity at Doubleday included comments from Conroy's wife and his longtime editor:

Paul Goldberg's audacious first novel begins at 2:37 a.m. on Feb. 24, 1953, when a Black Maria, a car used to transport prisoners through the night, leaves the "improbably tall, castle-like gates" of Lubyanka, Moscow's KGB headquarters and prison. Three men — a state security officer and two young soldiers — are inside, on their way to arrest a Red Army veteran and onetime Moscow State Jewish Theater actor named Solomon Shimonovich Levinson.

A few years ago, Olivia Laing found herself an expatriate Brit living in New York City. No stranger to urban life, she nonetheless grew overwhelmed — by the quirks of each new sublet, by the slight social differences in an otherwise familiar language, and most of all by the blurry rush of humanity around her, so close yet somehow so distant.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin returns home with a prodigal daughter in Richard Fifield’s The Flood Girls.

Title: The Flood Girls

Author: Richard Fifield

Pages: 307

Publisher: Gallery Books

ISBN: 978-1476797380

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

The night Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston, the reigning heavyweight champion, crowds had squeezed into the venue, expecting to watch Liston beat the stuffing out of the young braggart. The odds were 7-to-1 in Liston's favor. The air was filled with testosterone and cigar smoke. Few people noticed the tall, quiet man at ringside, immaculately dressed in a dark suit and tie and crisp white shirt, watching the fight intently.

The total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to approach $6 trillion, but it will be decades before we know what we've truly lost. We have a generation that's never really known peacetime, and thousands upon thousands of service members who have returned to the country wounded in ways the rest of us might never understand. The wages of sin might be death, but the wages of war could be something even worse.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin heads to Wall Street for Maureen Sherry’s Opening Belle.

Title: Opening Belle

Author: Maureen Sherry

Pages: 299

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 978-1501110627

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

'How To Be A Tudor': Not As Stinky As You Think

Feb 18, 2016

Sometimes you want your history close to home. It's a good thing, then, that Ruth Goodman seriously commits to her research. In How to Be a Tudor, billed as "a dawn-to-dusk guide to Tudor life," she recounts her experiences with lower- and middle-class daily habits, including Elizabethan hygiene regimens (not bad), rush-mat floors (quite nice), roasting meat on a spit (spectacular) and attempting to plow fields for planting (sad trombone).

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin battles a mysterious enemy with the Nowhere Man in author Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X.

Title: Orphan X

Author: Gregg Hurwitz

Pages: 316

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ISBN: 978-1250067845

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

Like many romance readers, I have a list of authors whose new releases are always on my shopping list. But this winter I've been looking for new (to me) novels that reflect the people I see around me. I wanted to read books by authors of color. I also looked for interracial relationships, protagonists from different cultures, and class differences without power imbalances (the Women of Color in Romance website was a great resource). Here are a few that I found.

A new novel takes young readers inside the mind of a 5-year-old fox. Abandoned as a kit, Pax is taken in by Peter, a boy whose mother has died. When Peter's dad joins the military, Peter is forced to send Pax into the wild for the first time. The story — set during wartime in an unidentified time and place — is told from both Peter and Pax's perspectives.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin investigates mystery at a museum with Tim Flannery’s The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish.

Title: The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish

Author: Tim Flannery

Pages: 281

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ISBN: 978-1250079428

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

Folklore For Hipsters: Fairy Tales Before They Were Cool

Feb 7, 2016

Reading The Tale of Tales, Giambattisa Basile's 17th-century book of fairy stories, is both exhilarating and exhausting. If that sounds like a warning, it is. If that sounds like a promise, well, good news.

In my house growing up, the walls of every room — including the bathroom — were decorated with several calendars. (Is this a Chinese-American thing? An immigrant family thing? I've always wondered.)

In Hong Kong's densely packed Causeway Bay district, a red sign with a portrait of Chairman Mao looms over the bustling storefronts and shoppers. The sign indicates that there is coffee, books and Internet on offer inside.

Customers go past a window where travelers can exchange foreign currencies, up a narrow staircase and into a room stacked high with books. The walls are painted red and decked out with 1960s Cultural Revolution propaganda posters and other Mao-era memorabilia. The aroma of coffee and the sound of jazz waft over the book-browsing customers.

A Sampler Of Web Comics To Keep You Clicking

Feb 2, 2016

Webcomics have matured a lot in recent years. Today's clickables aren't necessarily artistically superior to those created a decade ago, but they radiate a certain confidence and, in some cases, a more experimental vibe. That may be partly because fast connection speeds provide a more seamless reader experience, and partly because webcomics are somewhat more lucrative these days. Thanks to crowdfunding, more creators can afford to issue print editions or simply pay themselves for their time.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin goes on an audio parenting adventure with Jen Mann’s People I Want to Punch in the Throat.

Title: People I Want to Punch in the Throat

Author: Jen Mann

Runtime: 5 hours, 22 minutes

Publisher: Tantor Audio

AISN: B00QL3HJ2C

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

As many know, parenting isn't an easy job. It can be hugely frustrating and even lonely trying to figure out what's best for your kid. Should you be a taskmaster or a best friend? Is there a middle ground? The pressures of full-time work and round-the-clock activities can make that question even more challenging to tackle.

Readers have waited almost 15 years for a second novel from the acclaimed Alexander Chee, following the highly-praised Edinburgh. The wait is over.

The Queen Of The Night is sprawling, soaring, bawdy and plotted like a fine embroidery. Lilliet Berne is the most famous soprano in the French opera. She is offered the role of a lifetime: an original part written for her. But then she sees that the opera must be based on a part of her life she's kept under wraps.

A long-lost Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, is set to be released this fall, 150 years after the beloved author's birth.

The tale about a sharply dressed feline has "all the hallmarks of Potter's best works," editor Jo Hanks, who stumbled upon the story, says in an interview with Penguin U.K., which will publish the book.

'All The Birds' Overturns Sci-Fi And Fantasy, Gently

Jan 26, 2016

As a genre, science-fantasy is often as basic as it sounds: People with swords meet people with lasers. (In some cases, like Star Wars, the swords and lasers are even the same thing.) But there's so much more potential in the overlap between science fiction and fantasy, a fact that's not lost on Charlie Jane Anders.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin heads out on a cross-country comic adventure with Jane Lotter’s The Bette Davis Club.

Title: The Bette Davis Club

Author: Jane Lotter

Pages: 325

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

ISBN: 978-1503951075

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

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Elizabeth McKenzie's clever, romantic comedy broadcasts quirkiness right on its cover, with its potentially off-putting title and its illustration of a squirrel instead of the interlocked wedding rings you might expect. In the tradition of Elizabeth McCracken's The Giant's House and Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project, The Portable Veblen is a smart charmer about a brainy off-center couple who face up to their differences — and their difficult, eccentric families — only after they become engaged. Although plenty whimsical — the squirrel has opinions!

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