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Depraved and Desperate

Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff illuminates troubled small-town lives

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Knockemstiff, Ohio, is a place where bony dudes, emboldened after swigging whiskey from car ashtrays, flatten men three times their size in drive-in bathrooms. It's place where acne-riddled teenagers flee abusive fathers in favor of overweight, speed-popping homosexual truck drivers. At least that’s the Knockemstiff we get in Donald Ray Pollock’s widely-praised debut collection of short stories, aptly titled "Knockemstiff," published earlier this year.   

American Wife (Review)

Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House)

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Earlier this year, I went to my cousin's wedding. It was a seriously Republican crowd. The only Democrat I met all weekend used to babysit the Bush twins. At a bridal luncheon given by a friend of the family well into her sixties, I was surprised to find a copy of Cincinnati native Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep. I was even more surprised to hear the hostess had read and enjoyed it.   

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (Review)

Vincent Bugliosi (Perseus Publishing)

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Vincent Bugliosi's thesis is that President Bush should be tried for conspiracy to commit murder over his misstatements (lies, in Bugliosi's eyes) that created the pretext for the 2003 Iraq invasion.  

Linguistic Vitality

Clay Poetry series returns at Weston Art Gallery

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Notions of how a voice achieves agency in the world. Its linguistic vitality is incredible. All the things that bring pleasure in poetry are there the texture of a particular voice, complex prosody, anaphor, sophisticated rhyme schemes and explosive punning.   

East Meets West Coast

East Meets West Coast Los Angeles-based author Lisa See uses her past to uncover hidden history

1 Comment · Tuesday, September 23, 2008
the Year, the Chinese American History Makers award, but the one that meant the most to me, that told me I had really been accepted, was I got to be a judge for the Miss Chinatown pageant.” In college she was a Modern Greek Studies major, which she says taught her the “pleasures and surprises” of research.   

Still Alive (Review)

Herbert Gold (Arcade)

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Herbert Gold is a Buckeye, born and raised in the Cleveland area, but he's lived in California for many years and is one of the last of the San Francisco beatniks. This memoir on his life is smart, crisp and feisty. Perhaps he's a bit all over the place, but that's part of the fun.   

Mine All Mine (Review)

Adam Davies (Riverhead Trade)

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 20, 2008
True to style, Adam Davies (author of "The Frog Prince" and "Goodbye Lemon") has penned another masterfully precise depiction of the guy who can't win for losing. This time it's poor Otto Starks, whose life these days sadly resembles a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book gone dreadfully wrong.  

The Enchantress of Florence (Review)

Salman Rushdie (Random House)

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Things to keep in mind when starting a Salman Rushdie novel: It's difficult, if not impossible, to understand everything during a first reading; the bawdy language is as much a device as the plot itself; and, most importantly, Sir Rushdie is consistently lighthearted, despite the heaviness of his subjects. His newest book is no exception.   

The Soloist (Review)

Steve Lopez (Penguin Group)

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Steve Lopez, metro columnist for The Los Angeles Times, was walking around downtown one day when he saw a shabbily dressed homeless man serenely playing Beethoven on his battered violin at a street corner. He was intrigued -- and, of course, looking for column material. "Violin man. It's got potential," Lopez recalls thinking in his book about the relationship that resulted from that encounter.  

Sway (Review)

Zachary Lazar (Little, Brown and Co.)

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 11, 2008
If Zachary Lazar has an inherent enthusiasm for the Rolling Stones, his novel's subject, he keeps it hidden. Rather, he meticulously challenges a truism of the 1960s: that the Stones' performance at Altamont dramatically ended the '60s.  

The Race Card (Review)

Richard Thompson Ford (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 11, 2008
When victims of Hurricane Katrina face delays in getting federal assistance, when Oprah Winfrey is denied service at Hermés' flagship store in Paris as the store is closing and when no cab stops for Danny Glover in midtown Manhattan, the reflex action is to call it racism. Sounds like it is. But what if it isn't?   

Vanilla Bright Like Eminem (Review)

Micheal Faber (Harcourt)

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Michael Faber is new to me, but he's not a new writer: He's written four novels, and 'Vanilla Bright Like Eminem' is his second collection of short stories. If this book is a reflection on his earlier work, then I have some catching up to do.   

A Good Woman (Review)

Dorothy Weil (Plain View Press)

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Ever wonder "How could that have happened?" when evening news has a story of some terrible event carried out by an ordinary person, somebody who could live down the street from you, a perfectly nice person never given to mayhem? Cincinnati writer Dorothy Weil tells us how things like that can happen in her new novel, which takes place mostly in Walnut Hills.  

George Clooney, The Last Great Movie Star (Review)

Kimberly Potts (Applause)

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 2, 2008
George Clooney, Northern Kentucky University dropout turned famous actor, is discussed in detail in this unauthorized biography, a lightweight primer that forgoes deep, authentic analysis of Clooney's career and life in favor of regurgitating information from various interviews and reviews that have appeared in other places.   

Clapton, the Autobiography (Review)

Eric Clapton (Broadway)

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 2, 2008
In his autobiography, Rock guitar hero Eric Clapton proves himself a frank and direct writer who doesn't hide his feelings about his personal failures, of which he believes he has many.