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Bicentennial: Poems

In his fourth book of poems, “Bicentennial,” Dan Chiasson is after beauty of a kind, so his poems are often beautiful, odd and quite moving.


Midnight in Europe

It’s this kind of passing detail, blending the comic and the tragic, briefly redirecting the reader’s attention toward the million different wars going on all at once, that gives “Midnight in Europe” its terrific texture of reality.


The Great Glass Sea

“The Great Glass Sea” is not an alternative history, then, but a fantastical vision inspired by bits and pieces of Russian language, history and culture. It is beautifully baffled by the mysterious Russian soul.


This Blue

Underlying much of “This Blue” is a sense of a world that’s cracked and cracking.


Lucky Us: A Novel

This is only a small sampling of all the vitality Ms. Bloom packs into a short, vibrant book about all kinds of people creating all kinds of serial, improvisatory lives.


The Book of Life: A Novel

When done well, as it is here, this sort of fiction provides characters who are recognizably human in their desires and actions even if most of them are creatures with supernatural powers.


War of the Whales: A True Story

By telling the sonar-and-the-whales story in such detail and breadth, the author may provoke a more substantial debate about what human advances and priorities are doing to the rest of the planet.


A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States

Imperfect Union is truest to its own stated cartoon conquest when it plumbs lesser-known stories — and actually lives up to its battle cry of saying “Enough!” of focusing solely on those great dead white men.


Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a personal journey but it also reminds us not to forget.


Mating for Life: A Novel

While suspense is likely out of the equation, readers looking for some light escapism in the vein of Love Actually, with other rom-coms sprinkled liberally in the mix, will find that time with this novel passes at an easeful clip.


Prototype

Prototype more than lives up to the high expectations fans of the first novel will have.


Shine

I personally enjoyed the overall novel and would possibly consider reading more of this writers work to see what other interesting and enjoyable stories of this calibre have been created.


Full Fathom Five

Readers curious about Gladstone’s work and universe should not start with Full Fathom Five to really get the full experience of what the author does here.


Last Stories and Other Stories

Vollmann is a tricky, playful writer, and he might be pulling the reader's leg. Or maybe he knows, on some level, that the pseudo-poetic, overwrought prose of Last Stories is beneath him and his talents, and the title is a way of letting us know that he's ready to get back to work.


In the Interests of Safety: The Absurd Rules that Blight Our Lives and How We Can Change Them

Despite the admirable intention of the authors to help us all rise against such nonsense, you can’t help feeling that when it comes to perceived threat, and the industry that it generates, individuals and societies will never behave rationally.


The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee

This book does touch, glancingly, on deeper matters.


The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee

Mills' congenial book is an intimate portrait that does nothing to invade the privacy of Harper Lee.


War of the Whales: A True Story

Horwitz's account seems breathless at times, as he squeezes maximum drama from his characters and their motivations (not to mention their turbulent love lives). But he offers excellent capsule descriptions of various scientific specialties, and scientists.


I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir

Don't call Grant a survivor. She is a fighter and flourisher who proves Lucille Ball's maxim: "The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age."


I Pity the Poor Immigrant

[A] brilliant and intriguing new novel.