LitStack Rec: Little Failure & United States of Japan

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Little Failure: A Memoir, by Gary Shteyngart “In order for me to be born,” Gary Shteyngart says early on in his memoir, “all four branches of my family have to end up in Leningrad, trading in their tiny towns and villages for that somber, canal-laced cityscape. Here’s how it happens.” Voice, more than anything, can [….]

LitStack Recs: Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries & Brotherhood of the Wheel

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The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries, by Emma Thompson There’s enough left of summer to fit in at least one more light read, and Emma Thompson’s diary of the making of the award-winning Sense and Sensibility is a perfect choice. The 1995 film, directed by Ang Lee, would garner seven nominations at the 68th [….]

LitStack Rec: Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List & Shotgun Lovesongs

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Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List In uncertain times, we look to the familiar things, and this past week, it was great to see a  summer reading from President Barack Obama. One of our most literary presidents, and a prolific reader and writer, he began a tradition of posting his summer list while at the White [….]

LitStaff Rec: A House for Mr Biswas & Pride’s Spell

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A House For Mr Biswas, by V.S. Naipaul This past week, we lost a giant when V.S. Naipaul died in London at the age of 85. My rec this week looks at his 1961 novel, “A House for Mr Biswas,” which has appeared in different posts here at LitStack over the years. “A House for [….]

LitStack Recs: Desperate Characters & Mortal Bonds

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Desperate Characters, by Paula Fox This classic of literary fiction, written in 1970, is also a classic example of a book that was lost to readers, then found. In 1999, when this novel—and all Paula Fox’s adult novels—fell out of print, interest in the author and her work was almost singlehandedly revived by Jonathan Franzen, [….]

Litstack Recs: The Tall Book of Make-Believe & The Last Days of New Paris

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The Tall Book of Make-Believe ed. Jane Werner Illustrated by Garth Williams Well beyond the age it’s intended for, this collection of stories has stayed with me. This American classic of children’s stories and poems was compiled by Jane Werner in 1950, and from the start this book captured my imagination. By the age of [….]

LitStack Recs: Blood Will Out & The Adjacent

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Blood Will Out, by Walter Kirn In Preston Sturges’  romantic comedy, “The Palm Beach Story,” Claudette Colbert plays Gerry, reluctant divorcee of husband Tom (Joel McCrea) who’s bankrupted when his dream of building an airport fails. On a train to Palm Beach, Gerry meets eccentric millionaire John D. Hackensacker III, America’s richest man. He’s Sturges’ [….]

Litstack Rec: The Refugees & The Hummingbird

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The Refugees: Stories, by Viet Thanh Nguyen Fans of The Sympathizer, Nguyen’s debut novel that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016, will find much of what they loved in the author’s second book of short stories. Where The Sympathizer explores the effects of the Vietnamese War, and the experience of refugees’ displacement through the taut [….]

LitStack Recs: How to Read to Read a Sentence and How to Write One & American Elsewhere

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How to Read to Read a Sentence and How to Write One, by Stanley Fish For writers, the sentence is the coin of the realm, the catch that holds a reader fast to a story. And I love that Stanley Fish wrote a book just about sentences.  A professor of law and dean emeritus at [….]

LitStack Rec: Cutting Teeth & Wait Till Next Year

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Cutting Teeth, by Julia Fierro When my daughter was little, there was a sentiment among the parents I knew. We referred to  summer as the busy season, when the steady routine of the school year fell away and the schedule went overtime. Still, when your kids are small, there’s a lovely innocence to summer—its sprinklers [….]