Maureen Corrigan http://nhpr.org en 'Bintel Brief' And 'Hellfighters': American Stories, Powerfully Illustrated http://nhpr.org/post/bintel-brief-and-hellfighters-american-stories-powerfully-illustrated <em>A Bintel Brief</em> and <em>The Harlem Hellfighters</em> are two New York Stories. That's why I'm combining them in this review; not because — as some purists still think — they're lesser works of literature because they're graphic novels. If Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Bayeux Tapestry, and Art Spiegelman's 1991 classic, <em>Maus,</em> haven't yet convinced the high-art holdouts of the value of stories told in visual sequence, nothing I say now about these two books is likely to. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:34:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 46956 at http://nhpr.org 'Bintel Brief' And 'Hellfighters': American Stories, Powerfully Illustrated This Tightly Choreographed Tale Of Ambition And Ballet Will 'Astonish' http://nhpr.org/post/tightly-choreographed-tale-ambition-and-ballet-will-astonish The title of Maggie Shipstead's second novel is: <em>Astonish Me.</em> She did just that --astonish <em>me </em>-- with her debut novel of 2012, called <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/07/30/200738956/with-arrangements-and-the-rest-two-debut-novelists-arrive" target="_blank">Seating Arrangements</a>. Tue, 01 Apr 2014 18:08:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 46000 at http://nhpr.org This Tightly Choreographed Tale Of Ambition And Ballet Will 'Astonish' 'Thief' Delivers An Unfiltered Depiction Of Life In Lagos http://nhpr.org/post/thief-delivers-unfiltered-depiction-life-lagos Let's get the negative stuff out of the way first. Teju Cole's <em>Every Day Is For The Thief</em> is not much of a novel. Forget plot or character development: This is a piece of writing that's all about setting. If you take what Cole is offering here and value it on its own terms, you'll probably appreciate the curious magic at work in this slim not-quite-a-novel. In chapters that stand as separate, short vignettes, <em>Every Day Is For The Thief</em> describes a young New York doctor's visit back to his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria. Tue, 25 Mar 2014 18:05:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 45600 at http://nhpr.org 'Thief' Delivers An Unfiltered Depiction Of Life In Lagos What U.S. Learned From 'Heathen School' Wasn't Part Of The Lesson Plan http://nhpr.org/post/what-us-learned-heathen-school-wasnt-part-lesson-plan Picture this. You're a young girl, living in a remote town in Connecticut in 1825. You've taken refuge in a neighbor's house and, as night falls, you peek out a window to see your friends and family members assembling outdoors around two crude paintings: One is of a young white woman (you); the other painting is of a man, a Native American.<p>As church bells begin to toll, some of the townspeople carry forward fake bodies meant to represent you and the man in the painting; someone else ignites a barrel of tar and the effigies begin burning — an image of looming eternal damnation. Tue, 18 Mar 2014 17:45:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 45251 at http://nhpr.org What U.S. Learned From 'Heathen School' Wasn't Part Of The Lesson Plan 'Schmuck' Revisits The Golden Age Of Radio, And A Bygone Manhattan http://nhpr.org/post/schmuck-revisits-golden-age-radio-and-bygone-manhattan Beginning in 1952, and running through 1968, there was a legendary radio show called <em>Klavan And Finch</em> that was on WNEW in New York City. It was a four-hour live program featuring music and antic conversation between handsome, straight man Dee Finch and his live-wire counterpart, Gene Klavan.<p>Klavan's son, Ross, has just published an exuberant novel loosely based on his father's radio career. Wed, 05 Mar 2014 20:06:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 44579 at http://nhpr.org 'Schmuck' Revisits The Golden Age Of Radio, And A Bygone Manhattan These Stories Consider Solitude, With Echoes Of Emily Dickinson http://nhpr.org/post/these-stories-consider-solitude-echoes-emily-dickinson Lorrie Moore isn't quite a household name. This was news to me, because I thought that, given that she's the kind of writer who's published in <em>The New Yorker</em> and profiled in <em>The New York Times</em>, most culture vultures would know who she is. But, over the past couple of weeks when I mentioned her new book, <em>Bark</em>, in conversations, both in the halls of academe and over meals with friends, I mostly got blank stares. Wed, 26 Feb 2014 18:50:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 44189 at http://nhpr.org These Stories Consider Solitude, With Echoes Of Emily Dickinson Don't Know What To Do With Your Life? Neither Did Thoreau http://nhpr.org/post/dont-know-what-do-your-life-neither-did-thoreau Every year, students come into my office and say, "I don't know what I want to do with my life." Of course, plenty of people in the world don't have the luxury of such cluelessness, but my students don't look like they're enjoying their privilege; they look scared and depressed, as though they've already failed some big test of character. They might find some comfort in Michael Sims' new biography of the young Henry David Thoreau called, simply, <em>The Adventures of Henry Thoreau. Mon, 17 Feb 2014 19:59:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 43700 at http://nhpr.org Don't Know What To Do With Your Life? Neither Did Thoreau Triumph Of The Bookworms: Two Novels To Cure Your Winter Blues http://nhpr.org/post/triumph-book-worms-two-novels-cure-your-winter-blues In the opening paragraph of <em>Moby-Dick,</em> Ishmael tells us he takes to sea whenever he feels the onset of "a damp, drizzly November in [his] soul." I know how he feels. Whenever the frigid funk of February settles in, I, too, yearn to get out of town. This year I have, thanks to two exquisite vehicles of escape fiction. Both Rachel Pastan's <em>Alena</em> and Katherine Pancol's <em>The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles</em> are smart entertainments perfect for curling up with on a winter's night. Wed, 05 Feb 2014 18:31:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 43047 at http://nhpr.org Triumph Of The Bookworms: Two Novels To Cure Your Winter Blues Midwestern Memoir Tracks 'Flyover Lives' Of Author's Forebears http://nhpr.org/post/midwestern-memoir-tracks-flyover-lives-authors-forebears The second best quality Diane Johnson has as a writer is that she's so smart. Her first best quality — and one that's far more rare — is that she credits her audience with being smart, too. Whether she's writing fiction, biography or essays, Johnson lets scenes and conversations speak for themselves, accruing power as they lodge in readers' minds.<p>So it is with her memoir, <em>Flyover Lives</em>, which is bookended by a moody anecdote. Johnson recalls how she and her husband were invited to spend a night at a friend's rental villa in Provence, France. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 21:08:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 42807 at http://nhpr.org Midwestern Memoir Tracks 'Flyover Lives' Of Author's Forebears On This Spanish Slave Ship, Nothing Was As It Seemed http://nhpr.org/post/spanish-slave-ship-nothing-was-it-seemed Shortly after sunrise, on the morning of Feb. 20, 1805, sailors on an American ship called the <em>Perseverance</em>, anchored near an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, spied a weird vessel drifting into view. It flew no flag and its threadbare sails were slack. Mon, 27 Jan 2014 17:48:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 42513 at http://nhpr.org On This Spanish Slave Ship, Nothing Was As It Seemed Chang-rae Lee Stretches For Dystopic Drama, But Doesn't Quite Reach http://nhpr.org/post/chang-rae-lee-stretches-dystopic-drama-doesnt-quite-reach Dystopia is all the rage these days, especially in young adult fiction: There's the "Hunger Games" trilogy of course; Veronica Roth's "Divergent" series, in which Chicago has gone to the dogs; Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments" series, inspired by a nightmare vision of Manhattan; and Stephanie Meyer's non-<em>Twilight</em> novel, <em>The Host</em>, where Earth has been colonized by alien parasites. Tue, 14 Jan 2014 19:04:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 41832 at http://nhpr.org Chang-rae Lee Stretches For Dystopic Drama, But Doesn't Quite Reach Empty Nester In 'The Woods': A Modern Dantean Journey http://nhpr.org/post/empty-nester-woods-modern-dantean-journey <blockquote><p>Midway upon the journey of our life<br />I found myself within a forest dark, Thu, 09 Jan 2014 19:26:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 41565 at http://nhpr.org Empty Nester In 'The Woods': A Modern Dantean Journey A Critic Tours 'Echo Spring,' Home Of Beloved Boozy Writers http://nhpr.org/post/critic-tours-echo-spring-home-beloved-boozy-writers It's the quintessential "dog bites man" story. I'm talking about a new book I just read about a group of famous writers who — <em>get this </em>-- drank too much! I know, right? That's pretty much the equivalent of saying I just read a book about a group of famous writers who used commas in their sentences.<p>It's that very ho-hum quality of the link between alcohol and writing, however, that got critic Olivia Laing interested in the subject. Fri, 03 Jan 2014 19:40:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 41211 at http://nhpr.org A Critic Tours 'Echo Spring,' Home Of Beloved Boozy Writers Need A Read? Here Are Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2013 http://nhpr.org/post/need-read-here-are-maureen-corrigans-favorite-books-2013 First, a word about this list: It's honestly just a fluke that my best books rundown for 2013 is so gender-biased. I didn't deliberately set out this year to read so many terrific books by women.<p>Let's start with Alice McDermott. Without ever hamming up the humility, McDermott's latest novel, <a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/217326328/someone" target="_blank">Someone</a>, tells the life story of an ordinary woman named Marie who comes of age in mid-20th-century Brooklyn and works for a time in a funeral parlor. Wed, 11 Dec 2013 19:25:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 39961 at http://nhpr.org Need A Read? Here Are Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2013 Thanksgivukkah Stress Getting You Down? Here's A Literary Escape Plan http://nhpr.org/post/thanksgivukkah-stress-getting-you-down-heres-literary-escape-plan Mark your calendars: According to some scholars, the next time it might happen is the year 79,811. I'm talking, of course, about the hybrid holiday of Thanksgivukkah, a melding of Thanksgiving and the Jewish Festival of Lights. The Borsch Belt-style Pilgrim jokes and mishmash recipes (turkey brined in Manischewitz, anyone?) are flying around the Internet; but since Jews are frequently referred to as "the People of the Book" and Pilgrims pretty much lived by the Book, Thanksgivukkah seems to me like the quintessential (stressful) family holiday to celebrate by escaping into a book. Tue, 26 Nov 2013 21:15:00 +0000 Maureen Corrigan 39161 at http://nhpr.org Thanksgivukkah Stress Getting You Down? Here's A Literary Escape Plan