Heller McAlpin http://wfae.org en Sorry, Europe. 'Quebert Affair' Plot Thrills, But Prose Lacks Substance http://wfae.org/post/sorry-europe-quebert-affair-plot-thrills-prose-lacks-substance Joel Dicker's breakneck thriller <em>The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair</em> lands stateside trumpeting international sales figures that are the stuff of a writer's wildest dreams: nearly a million copies in France alone. Naturally, our curiosity is roused. Could this be another surprise charmer like Muriel Barbery's quirky <em>The Elegance of the Hedgehog? Sat, 28 Jun 2014 21:05:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 53887 at http://wfae.org Sorry, Europe. 'Quebert Affair' Plot Thrills, But Prose Lacks Substance 'Delicious!' ... Isn't http://wfae.org/post/delicious-isnt The exclamation point in its title is a clear tipoff: <em>Delicious!, </em>Ruth Reichl's first novel, is about as subtle as a Ring Ding. It's an enthusiastic but cloyingly sentimental story about a 21-year-old who finds happiness by making peace with her past — namely, her crippling, self-deprecating hero-worship of her older sister. Tue, 27 May 2014 11:31:53 +0000 Heller McAlpin 51738 at http://wfae.org 'Delicious!' ... Isn't Stories Of Loss, Brightened By Luminous Language http://wfae.org/post/stories-loss-brightened-luminous-language Elizabeth McCracken is a former public librarian best known for her quirkily endearing 1996 novel, <em>The Giant's House</em>, about an unlikely romance kindled at the circulation desk between a petite librarian and a freakishly tall boy. Over time, her work — filled with misfits, giants, and oddballs — has become darker. Mon, 26 May 2014 10:59:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 51687 at http://wfae.org Stories Of Loss, Brightened By Luminous Language Before She Was 'Girl, Interrupted' She Was A Girl From Cambridge http://wfae.org/post/she-was-girl-interrupted-she-was-girl-cambridge Twenty years after the publication of <em>Girl, Interrupted</em>, Susanna Kaysen's excoriating memoir about the nearly two years she spent in a psychiatric institution at the end of her teens, she's written a sort of prequel. Cambridge, her unflinching, elegiac, quasi-autobiographical new novel, takes us back to the mid-to-late 1950s with a portrait of Susanna as a difficult, contrary 7-to-11-year-old miserably at odds with her family, her teachers and herself. Sat, 24 May 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 51606 at http://wfae.org Before She Was 'Girl, Interrupted' She Was A Girl From Cambridge Full Of Warmth And Wisdom, 'Vacationers' Is A Frothy Beach Read http://wfae.org/post/full-warmth-and-wisdom-vacationers-frothy-beach-read Meet the Posts — no relation to Emily and her rules of etiquette. The stressed family of New Yorkers in Emma Straub's breezy summer read,<em> The Vacationers,</em> are the kind of people who pack their troubles on top, for easiest access, when they head off on a trip together.<p>Sixty-year-old Jim Post has been kicked out of his beloved job editing <em>Gallant</em> magazine after an indiscretion with a 23-year-old editorial assistant whose father sits on the publication's board. Thu, 22 May 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 51448 at http://wfae.org Full Of Warmth And Wisdom, 'Vacationers' Is A Frothy Beach Read 'Empathy Exams' Is A Virtuosic Manifesto Of Human Pain http://wfae.org/post/empathy-exams-virtuosic-manifesto-human-pain A boyfriend once called Leslie Jamison "a wound dweller." This is one of many personal morsels she shares in her virtuosic book of essays, <em>The Empathy Exams,</em> in which she intrepidly probes sore spots to explore how our reactions to both our own pain and that of others define us as human beings. Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 48257 at http://wfae.org 'Empathy Exams' Is A Virtuosic Manifesto Of Human Pain Comedian Ages With Humor — And Effort http://wfae.org/post/comedian-ages-humor-and-effort What is it about comedians itching to get between the covers — book covers, that is? Annabelle Gurwitch's <em>I See You Made An Effort, </em> a seriously funny collection of essays about teetering over the edge of 50, makes it clear that the draw isn't strictly literary. Wed, 26 Feb 2014 01:29:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 45815 at http://wfae.org Comedian Ages With Humor — And Effort 'One More Thing' Has A Few Too Many Things, But It's Still Funny http://wfae.org/post/one-more-thing-has-few-too-many-things-its-still-funny How entertaining is B.J. Novak? With <em>One More Thing</em>, the standup comic, scriptwriter and actor (best known for his work on <em>The Office</em>), takes his talents to the page in 64 fresh, short, offbeat and often hilarious stories, many of which involve updating classics for satirical effect — whether with a rematch between the tortoise and the hare, or by replacing detective Encyclopedia Brown from children's literature with Wikipedia Brown, who is hopelessly distracted by tangential subjects. Tue, 11 Feb 2014 12:03:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 44807 at http://wfae.org 'One More Thing' Has A Few Too Many Things, But It's Still Funny Anna Quindlen Is (Still) The Voice Of Her Generation http://wfae.org/post/anna-quindlen-still-voice-her-generation Back in the 1980s, Anna Quindlen's <em>New York Times </em>column, "Life in the 30s," delineated — with humor and grace — what so many of her fellow newly liberated female Boomers were going through: the complications of using your maiden name after you have children. Check. The challenges of balancing a career with parenting. Check. Grocery shopping with small children in tow, "an event I hope to see included in the Olympics in the near future."<em> </em>Check again.<p><em>Still Life with Bread Crumbs</em>, Quindlen's seventh novel, offers the literary equivalent of comfort food. Wed, 29 Jan 2014 12:02:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 43943 at http://wfae.org Anna Quindlen Is (Still) The Voice Of Her Generation Music And Chemistry Are An Explosive Combination In 'Orfeo' http://wfae.org/post/music-and-chemistry-are-explosive-combination-orfeo Richard Powers, whose novels combine the wonders of science with the marvels of art, astonishes us in different ways with each new book. His 11th, <em>Orfeo</em>, is about a 70-year-old avant-garde composer who has sacrificed family and fortune to his relentless pursuit of immortal, transcendent music.<p>Retired from teaching, Peter Els finally takes his esoteric monomania too far when he attempts to combine his twin obsessions — music and chemistry — in homegrown genetic engineering experiments aimed at instilling music into bacterial cells by altering DNA. Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:02:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 43477 at http://wfae.org Music And Chemistry Are An Explosive Combination In 'Orfeo'