We’ve had our eye on writer-on-the-verge NATHAN ENGLANDER since devouring his debut short-story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges (click for an excerpt). Englander, a former Orthodox Jew, travels from Jerusalem to read and sign copies of his first novel, The Ministry of Special Cases, in which he weaves humor and desolation into a story of fathers and sons during Argentina’s Dirty War.
Three young writers are forgoing good manners and decent content tonight for “BAD BEHAVIOR 2007.” JAMI ATTENBERG (Instant Love), JANICE ERLBAUM (Girlbomb, A Halfway Homeless Memoir), and WENDY MCCLURE (I’m Not the New Me) have highlighted the smuttiest phrases, dirtiest character developments, and filthiest of plot climaxes in their respective tomes.
WHAT IS THIS THING?
A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love is BEN GREENMAN’s third book, and this New Yorker staffer has chosen the most wonderful and infuriating of human emotions for his muse. The current editor of “Goings On About Town,” Greenman has a taste for both the profoundly cultural and the inherently quirky, and the tales he tells in Circle share these themes: romance, sentiment, sex, and heartbreak are extolled with humor and several dips into experimental form.
The author of the bestselling The Perfect Storm turns out another mindbender with A Death in Belmont. SEBASTIAN JUNGER grew up in Belmont, and he calmly inquires into the facts surrounding the murder of Belmont resident Bessie Goldberg and its possible link to the Boston Strangler killing spree. A plot this chilling could be written only by someone who was acquainted with the confessed Strangler himself.
Mrs. Andy Richter, a/k/a actress and writer SARAH THYRE, was dubbed the “family liar” by her father almost as soon as she learned to talk. In her attempt to live up to this infamous nickname, high jinks and hilarity ensued, and she resurrects all her old raunchy anecdotal ghosts in the new memoir Dark at the Roots, which comes packaged with breathless plugs by the likes of David Sedaris and David Rakoff.
If you’re hankering for yet another tale of an adolescent loner with major family issues, consider dipping into The God of Animals. New writer ARYN KYLE pulls off a YA/adult-fiction crossover with her tale of a young girl living on a Colorado ranch who’s fixated on a drowned classmate and then finds herself spending extra time with her unpopular English teacher.
Our obsession with Radar (now in its third print incarnation thanks to yet another relaunch) notwithstanding, we know the voice of its Fresh Intelligence blog, or Gawker, for that matter, couldn’t have existed without Spy. KURT ANDERSEN co-founded the original media/celebrity/politics satire rag, but he’s written a surprisingly serious historical novel called Heyday
In Him Her Him Again the End of Him, former Saturday Night Live writer and current New Yorker humor scribe PATRICIA MARX offers up a close study on how far a girl will go to get over her hideously self-indulgent college boyfriend. Marx’s unnamed enraptured narrator falls in love with Eugene, a fellow Cambridge University student who has a wandering eye and an ego big enough to fill a singles cruise ship.
KEN KALFUS’s latest black comedy pegs the September 11 fallout against the consequences of small-scale domestic terrorism — better known as the nasty urban divorce. A Disorder Peculiar to the Country follows Joyce and Marshall Harriman as they sue for custody of their two children and their Brooklyn Heights co-op.
Journalist and short-story writer ELIZABETH GILBERT had it all — a cool career, a husband, and a nice house in the ’burbs — but she wanted none of it. Following a nasty divorce and a mind-numbing period of depression, Gilbert went to Italy and stuffed herself with the finest food and wine she could find. Then she moved on to an ashram in Mumbai for endless hours of meditation.
Hey pop-culture savvy kit kats. We made an embarrassing mistake over at our other gig. Silly us!
Former Guided by Voices bassist and biographer JAMES GREER was married engaged to Sonic Youther* Kim Deal, he used to write for Spin back when it put bands other than My Chemical Romance on the cover, he’s originally from Boston, and his first work of fiction, Artificial Light, is meta to the extreme, with three books-within-a-book forming the story’s ambitious narrative plus a character named Kurt C- who fronted for a band Greer refers to as N.
Cambridge-based novelist ALICE HOFFMAN s one of those deeply psychological writers who we depend on to bore into the individual minds of an ill-fated family. Once there, she unearths the sort of romantic desperation and weird, mystical secrets that most households would do anything to keep hidden. For her 19th novel to date, Skylight Confessions, Hoffman focuses on just how much an event of complete randomness can determine one’s fate.
It’s not that we need Hollywood gossip to lead a fulfilled life -- but it sure does help keep things interesting when taking back overdue library books registers as an 8.8 on our personal Richter scale of scandal. What a shame JAKE HALPERN doesn’t quite see it our way. This frequent All Things Considered commentator explores the dark side of celebrity in Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America’s Favorite Addiction, the research for which included partying with professional assistants (we can’t prove they included Lindsay Lohan’s former one, who is now said to be happier working for Jessica Biel) and making nice with Rod Stewart’s biggest fan (could it be his daughter Kim, formerly engaged to a certain Laguna Beach player with a horrible singing voice?) Build a roaring bonfire out of your US Weekly back issues and revive what’s left of your brain cells when Halpern reads at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | 7 pm | free | 617.566.6660.
Celebrate “A YEAR OF POETRY” at Brookline Booksmith with famous local scribe and BU Creative Writing prof ROBERT PINSKY, the Phoenix’s own LLOYD SCHWARTZ, 11 other local poets, plus Alhambra’s Poetry Calendar 2007 editor SHAFIQ NAZ. What would the next 365 days of your life be without some free verse and iambic pentameter? The gang will read and sign their own works and read from those of the masters at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | 7 pm | free | 617.
Brookline Booksmith dedicates an evening to literary zeitgeist with a killer double bill. First up is local academic LEORA LEV, whose Enter at Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper is the first critical collection of essays on the author of the George Miles novels (Closer, Frisk, Try, Guide, Period), which typify his wall-of-assault psychosexual prose.