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Most recent posting below. See other blog postings in the column to the right.

Spies and Lies

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Summer's almost over but there is still a little time for a good beach read.

If you like Ian McEwan but always wanted to read John Le Carre, Ian's latest offering will give you a taste of both spies and the literary world with Sweet Tooth. Originally debuting as short fiction in The New Yorker, Sweet Tooth takes on the world of book publishing, book awards, M15 and the Cold War all in one. One can combine reading several entertaining short stories with a novel in this book within a book (think Persuasian or Babel Tower but without the strange pornography). Ironic, sardonic and romantic all in one, Sweet Tooth is a fun literary read - I highly recommend.

Speaking of book awards and winners, Claire Messud's Emperor's Children kicked off a trend of post-911 fiction that was respectful to victims while tapping the angst that the rest of us had in that darkest of times. Her latest novel, The Woman Upstairs, is a well-written but somewhat dour look at a single woman in "midlife" (early 40s? Come on!), whose growing obsession ultimately confuses reality and fantasy. 

Messud is masterful at portraying academic life in Boston (given her own teaching there) and the aura around artists and intelligentsia from farflung places, those everpresent regulars on Charlie Rose and the Huffington Post. She also expertly weaves the story of her own mother (who like mine, died much too young after fighting ALS), giving the novel its truest edge.


Moderated by Wendell Collins.

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