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Review: The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

I knew the name of the author from a very odd but memorable 2006 novel of female friendship called The Last of Her Kind. From the get go, this new novel, The Friend, felt like a guilty pleasure. Not a real novel but a gossipy and self-conscious collection of observations of contemporary life as a […]

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Review: Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck

In this beautiful novel, translated from the German, Richard is a retired and widowed Classics professor whose narrow existence is forever changed by his encounter with North African refugees stranded in Berlin. The heartrending tales of these men almost overwhelm the reader: Osarobo, who asks permission to play Richard’s piano; the Tuareg man named Apollo […]

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Review: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

The jacket copy alone wouldn’t have grabbed me—a historical novel of New York, set in the Depression and War years?  The first female diver?  Gangsters and Ziegfeld Follies? Uh uh. But the author is Jennifer Egan, whose A Visit From the Goon Squad was the most inventive and lively collection of linked short stories that […]

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Review: Swing Time by Zadie Smith

  One thing I love about Zadie Smith is her sensitivity to the small  cataclysms of contemporary life. In the early chapters of Swing Time, for example, she observes the influence of repeated viewings on her generation.  In my day, we saw a movie, at the movie theatre, once.  Maybe twice.  But as Smith points […]

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Review: Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout

There’s no hook in Abide With Me, an early novel by Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge and My Name is Lucy Barton.   I got fifty or so pages in and nearly gave up.  (In fact I had a sneaking suspicion at that juncture that all seemed familiar here and that quite possibly, I had […]

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