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Friday, August 29, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 65.0° F  Overcast
The Daily

BOOKS

A Book A Week: The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question won the 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction. Many people a lot smarter than I am have analyzed this book in depth, so I'm not going to do that. Any book about self-hating Jews and anti-Semitism is bound to generate a lot of discussion, and I am certain I have nothing new to add. >More
 A Book A Week: The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum

Deborah Blum won a Pulitzer Prize for science journalism and is a professor at the University of Wisconsin. One of her former students recommended The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, and I'd also heard from several mystery readers that it was a really fun book, if you don't mind a little chemistry with your drama. >More
 A Book A Week: Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith

In Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands, Michael Chabon argues for blurring the lines between genre fiction and mainstream literary fiction when we talk about writing. Stalin's Ghost is a perfect book to further Chabon's argument that some of the best modern writing is happening in genre fiction (mystery, science fiction, fantasy) rather than in traditional literary fiction. >More
 A Book A Week: The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

Cathleen Schine's The Three Weissmanns of Westport was the January selection at my book club. I enjoyed it, though not everyone else did. Elana thought there was too much "tell" and not enough "show," and I think Phyllis thought it was a bit lightweight, though she was too polite to say so. I, however, was happily entertained by it, though I don't think either Elana or Phyllis are incorrect in their analyses. >More
 A Book A Week: Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

Joshua Ferris' Then We Came to the End got a lot of good press and won some awards, including the 2007 PEN/Hemingway Award. It's the story of a group of people who work together in a Chicago advertising agency. >More
 A Book A Week: Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History by Harvey Pekar

Sometimes people ask me how I choose books. I usually answer something like "Oh, I have a lot of writers whose work I like, so just keeping up with their new books can fill my time." Or I"ll tell them that I regularly read the newspaper book review pages and make my choices based on that advice. >More
 A Book A Week: Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

I've noticed that when it comes to mysteries, I am all about location, the more exotic the better. In the past year or so I've read mysteries that take place in India, Norway, the Shetland Islands, China, Ireland, Italy and Saudi Arabia. >More
 A Book A Week: The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

Oh Rosy Thornton, where is your sharp edge? What happened to your astute observations, your subtle wit, your understated skewering of all things pompous? I loved your last book, Hearts and Minds, but The Tapestry of Love kind of left me cold. >More
 A Book A Week: Voice of America by E.C. Osondu

An editor at Harper sent me a review copy of E.C. Osondu's Voice of America. I'd never heard of Osondu, though the first story in this collection, "Waiting," won the 2009 Caine Prize, a literary prize for the best original short story by an African who is writing in English. >More
 A Book A Week: How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Charles Yu's How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is mind-bending. It didn't help that in the same weekend that I read this, I also watched the movie Inception and several episodes of Season 5 of Lost. I was lucky I could find my own kitchen, given all the time travel/dream-within-a-dream/bright flashes of light that were going on in my own personal entertainment universe. >More
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