LitStack Recs: Speedbumps & The Human Division

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Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood, by Teri Garr Think of Teri Garr, the legendary actress turns 70 on December 11, and likely it’s as the outspoken girl next door, the slightly off-kilter girlfriend, wife, or mother—characters she played in Tootsie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Young Frankenstein. Even when Garr is playing it [….]

LitStack Rec: Commonwealth & All the Birds in the Sky

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Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett Of divorce, Nicole Krauss wrote, “One of us held on to the ambition of the one idea far longer than was reasonable, whereas the other, passing a garbage can one night, had casually thrown it away.” That’s how ending a marriage can feel, especially for the spouse who’s left behind, an [….]

LitStack Recs: Passage to Ararat & War for the Oaks

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Passage to Ararat, by Michael J. Arlen “It’s a dangerous business,” writes Clark Blaise in this book’s introduction, “going into the underworld of history and ethnicity to discover one’s father, yet it seems one peculiar duty in our time of identity politics.” The observation is an apt one in which to begin Michael J. Arlen’s [….]

Litstack Recs: Anna May Wong & The Hatred of Poetry

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Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend, by Graham Russell Gao Hodges Don’t be misled by the tabloid nature of the title. Hodges’ biography is a meticulously researched and carefully constructed account of one of early cinema’s most notable icons. You could be forgiven for not knowing the work of Anna May Wong, [….]

LitStack Rec: Changing My Mind & Hunger Makes the Wolf

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Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, by Zadie Smith This collection of essays came about by accident, Zadie Smith tells us in the foreword, but the voice and curiosity behind it makes this read seamless and satisfying. My hope, as a reader of essays, is to learn something, whether the topic is snow camping or religious [….]

LitStack Recs: Crash Course & Ninefox Gambit

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Crash Course: essays from where writing and life collide, by Robin Black The third book from short story writer and novelist Robin Black collects her recent essays, many of which first appeared on the great, and sadly erstwhile literary blog, Beyond the Margins. Crash Course, subtitled essays from where writing and life collide, is aptly [….]

Litstack Recs: Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House & A Natural History of Dragons

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Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House, by Meghan Daum The moral of this story might run be careful what you wish for, especially if the house you get doesn’t live up to the fantasy you’ve been harboring. For Meghan Daum, novelist, essayist, L.A. Times columnist and extreme home aficiondo, the pursuit [….]

LitStack Recs: Tinkers & View From the Cheap Seats

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Tinkers, by Paul Harding In the novels I love most, the story is ultimately about time. The span of a life. The meaning of childhood and youth. Stories, like life, are anchored in the temporal, though unlike life, novels enable us the entire span,  beginning, middle, and end. In novels, like life, time is finite, [….]

LitStack Recs: Far From the Madding Crowd & The Lost Child of Lychford

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Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy Hardy’s novel of romantic entanglements and farming rural life, set in fictional nineteenth-century county Wessex, is the perfect book for a winter read. This tale of Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak, first published in 1874, takes its time, and let’s the reader settle into time and place. [….]

LitStaff Rec: Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures & Alif the Unseen

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 Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub Readers captivated by Old Hollywood are sure to love Emma Straub’s debut novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. The novel, Straub’s first, portrays an era when the veil of glamor was not so easily pulled away, and is an appealing behind-the-curtain view of the transformation from mere [….]