A Reader's Guide to Unfamiliar Literature
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about Nick Laird 2007-03-01 09:26:14

"Utterly Monkey" is a witty first novel about two old friends -- one a lawyer, one a thug -- from Ireland who reluctantly team up in London. Laird started out as a poet, but this novel is an assured and lively narrative, a little like a less abrasive Martin Amis.

about Geraldine Brooks 2006-11-18 13:06:54

Although March, based on the life of Louisa May Alcott's father, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Year of Wonders is a more successful and remarkable novel. Set in an English village that quarantined itself during the plague of 1666, it inhabits that time with ease and becomes emotionally powerful.

about Bob Dylan 2006-11-12 22:12:04

You don't have to be a Dylan fanatic, or even care about him much, to appreciate this first volume of his autobiography. He describes his life and the period of the early 60's in a remarkably vivid (and surprisingly lucid!) way.

about Kazuo Ishiguro 2006-11-12 22:04:23

His early novels, "A Pale View of Hills" and "An Artist of the Floating World" may be his most beautiful and lyrical. Although all his novels are in some way about loss, these first ones have a softer tone than "Remains of the Day" and later works, and are wonderful complements tothem.

about Julia Blackburn 2006-09-10 21:44:45

"The Emperor's Last Island" (about Napoleon on St. Helena) and "Daisy Bates in the Desert" (about an early 20th-century Irishwoman and adventurer who lived among the Aborigines) are unclassifiable in the best sense: slim biographies that have the texture of novels and that weave the author's own meditations about the art of biography into these richly imagined works.

about Bruce Wagner 2006-09-10 21:30:07

These are scathing satires of Hollywood, yet also extremely literary and deeply felt; truly original.

about Esther Freud 2006-04-19 20:05:44

An English novelist too little known in the U.S., Freud writes psychologically astute, realistic novels about family relationships (this might be the place to mention that her great-grandfather was Sigmund, and her father is Lucien, but her works stands perfectly well on its own).

about Christopher Buckley 2006-04-04 21:27:58

Christopher Buckley writes timely and quite funny social and political satires. They are so much of their (recent) moment that they may be more ephemeral than enduring, but they are also extremely entertaining, literary comic novels.

about John Sayles 2006-03-15 13:51:30

Throughout his career as a filmmaker -- writer and director -- Sayles has also written fiction that shares the astute observations and political awareness of his movies. His latest story collection, "Dillinger in Hollywood," gives a sense of his style and is a good place to begin.

about Caroline Blackwood 2006-03-08 19:51:22

Although she may be better known as a non-fiction writer, Blackwood wrote some delicious dark-comic novels. "Great Granny Webster" is a very short and very sharp little gem, a mordant comedy set just after World War II about an aristoctratic grandmother who is almost Dickensian in her ill will (if Dickens had the black-comic instincts of Evelyn Waugh).

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