Fly Me to the Moon

Fly Me to the Moon

Ed Belbruno doesn't sit still easily. On a sunny, winter afternoon, he perches at the edge of his sofa talking about his latest book, Fly Me to the Moon (Princeton University Press), and about chaos. Specifically chaos theory.

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Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color book coverBlue Is The Warmest Color, the debut graphic novel by the talented Julie Maroh (recently adapted to the big screen where it won the Palme d’Or prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival,) tells the story of Clementine, a high school junior, who falls in love with a university art student, Emma.

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Divided We Stand: Nixonland by Rick Perlstein

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In his sprawling new book, Nixonland (Simon & Schuster, 2008), Rick Perlstein, a senior fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, a liberal public policy shop, and the author of a well-acclaimed biography of Barry Goldwater, describes an apocalyptic battle waged by two groups of Americans – forerunners of today’s Democrat and Republican parties – each convinced of its own morality and of the other’s irredeemable evil.

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Elif Shafak: Writing with Black Ink

brenner-shafak-2Most of us have heard voices in our heads telling us what we should or shouldn’t do, especially women who are grappling with decisions about their careers, marriage and motherhood. But Shafak’s skillful storytelling shows how a "Choir of Discordant Voices", finger-sized Thimbelinas inside her head cajole, tease, berate and encourage her, becoming her life-line as she navigates through a maze and fog of depression.

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Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants

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Immigration has always been a touchstone of America's cultural and ethnic diversity. Indeed, we are a nation of immigrants. As such, we celebrate our nation’s welcoming embrace to those who have sought political, economic and artistic freedom.

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In the Footsteps of a Twentieth Century Explorer

Alive in Africa book coverOn June 8th 2008, William F. Wheeler, passed away from complications of bone marrow cancer two months before his book, Alive in Africa, was published. He was a doctor, photographer, author, musician, father, husband, and friend. And once an idea took hold of his imagination, he never let go. I met Bill just weeks after I’d purchased a travel bookstore in Solana Beach, California, where he and his wife Linda lived. Bill would spend hours in the store talking about his journeys and those of early explorers such as Sir Richard Burton and Henry Stanley.

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Interview – Lynn Miller

Crossing the Line book cover Renaissance Man. When I suggest the term to Lynn Miller, he scoffs quietly, a relaxed figure in a plaid shirt, jeans and sneakers, sitting at the opposite end of my living room sofa. When I share with him that I recently told someone that Lynn Miller had to be the scion of an old Philadelphia family, otherwise he could never have written such an insider story; he laughs out loud! One does not think of the Great Plains as producing such literary and social sophistication. However time, travel, and a painter’s eye have certainly done so.

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Istanbul, Memories, and the City

Cihangir Antique Street Paying attention to beauty in all its forms, but especially its melancholic form comes naturally to Orhan Pamuk, who tells us in his new memoir, Istanbul, Memories and the City, that before becoming a writer he had planned to become a painter. By the time he reveals that fact he has used his painterly eye and gift for language to draw us into a world where life with his charming, philandering father, his beautiful, sad mother, and his older brother echoes and reflects the complicated, melancholy city of Istanbul itself. Readers of Pamuk’s first novel, The Black Book, will recognize Pamuk’s home, the Pamuk Apartments...

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Locus Amoenus by Victoria Alexander

Locus Amoenus bookcover In much the same way that James Joyce used Homer’s Odyssey to create a classical stage set for the characters of Ulysses in the dear dirty Dublin in 1904, V. N. Alexander’s new novel uses Shakespeare’s Hamlet as an archetypal structure that casts a shadow over the stereotypes of our new American life of junk food, junk politics, and NSA/Homeland Security.

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Meditations, Wise and Gentle: A Review of The Wild Braid

Wild Braid bookcover Living to be one hundred, we are told, is not the uncommon phenomenon it once was. But publishing your twentieth book to mark the occasion must certainly be regarded as unique.

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Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

Paul Krugman excerpt circle Has liberalism regained its mojo? Everywhere you look – the resurgence of progressive organizations, the explosion of left-leaning blogs, the defeat of the GOP in the 2006 midterm elections – points to a revival of liberalism’s fortunes.

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Public Radio: Behind the Voices

Public Radio Behind the Voices book cover National Public Radio Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg says of the early days of her show, Weekend Edition Sunday: “One of the reasons we brought a musician in there was so that we would take very deliberate breaks in which people could read their papers.” Now, Lisa A. Phillips has given NPR listeners alternative reading material for the breaks, the book Public Radio: Behind the Voices.

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Review of Gulliver as Slave Trader: Racism Reviled

Gulliver as Slave Trader

It may be true that after centuries of critical readers, one such scholar would uncover something not-so-new about Gulliver’s Travels. In her recently published book, Gulliver as Slave Trader: Racism Reviled by Jonathan Swift, Elaine L. Robinson shines light onto a text that many scholars believe they have “figured out” within the past three hundred years.

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The Loveliest Woman in America

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One cold, icy night in the dead of winter, 1938, Rosamond Pinchot – scion of a prominent East Coast family, and world-famous as a “long-legged beauty” who once was the toast of Broadway – committed suicide. And she did it in style, albeit a grimly premeditated one, as Bibi Gaston recounts in The Loveliest Woman in America, her highly readable, compelling personal memoir of three generations of her pedigreed family’s troubled history.

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The Road to Home: Rachel Simon’s The Story of Beautiful Girl

Story of Beautiful Girl book cover In the early 1990s, I met Rachel Simon just after she published her first book, a collection of marvelous short stories, Little Nightmares, Little Dreams. Along with a group of writers in Philadelphia, I had co-founded and hosted a reading series and we asked her to share her work with us. A few years later, our mutual friend John Timpane of the Philadelphia Inquirer sparked Simon to write about her developmentally disabled sister Beth, Beth's very full life, and their bus rides through the town where Beth lived.

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The Strangely Distorted and Weirdly Elongated World of James Bond

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The first James Bond novel, Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, appeared in 1953, just as the Korean War was coming to an end and the C.I.A. was planning the removal of Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh from office in Iran.

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Thinking Otherwise on Turkey: Anatolian Days and Nights

Joy Stocke with Anatolian Days and Nights bookWhen the average American thinks of the land of Turkey, his or her perceptions have been influenced by movies like Lawrence of Arabia and Midnight Express to see the land as a place of cruelty and ignorance. For the more educated, the images may be of Tamerlane sacking Baghdad, or of Victorian paintings of Turks auctioning naked white women captured by Turkish pirates and then being sold in the slave market. Or they may think of Delacroix’s painting “The Massacre of Chios” and have thoughts of Lord Byron dying while fighting the Turk in defense of Western Civilization.

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Tribal Truths And Common Struggles: A Review of Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy offers a case study in survival.  Vance sheds light far beyond the individual members of his family.  His memoir’s gravitas derives not from decades of adult achievement (Vance was 32 by the publishing date) but from a young man’s success against odds—in our on-going national drug epidemic, so many of his tribal peers find life nasty, brutish, and short—and from his ability to look closely at an enduring subculture that continues to confound Americans of all political stripes.

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Voodoo Lounge

Voodoo Lounge bookcover “When you go, you go for real.” So Christian Bauman begins his second novel, Voodoo Lounge, and he means it. He takes hold of you with his sharp, precise prose and does not let go until the last page.

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What Feeds Us by Diane Lockward

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In Diane Lockward’s collection of poems What Feeds Us fruit takes on many forms: the miracle of an artichoke in New Jersey, bliss in blueberries, people as pickles, the pear as a seducer, comfort, wanting, nourishment, all cooked up in a collection with quark and zest, the likes of a “pine cone gone awry.”

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Winter Journal by Paul Auster

Paul Auster Winter Journal book cover“Some memories are so strange to you, so unlikely, so outside the realm of the plausible, that you find it difficult to reconcile them with the fact that you are the person who experienced the event you are remembering.” So: You are an accomplished novelist, poet, translator and essayist with a dedicated following. You have seen your own work translated into several languages and transferred onto film, sometimes with your own screenwriting. You hold a high place in the contemporary US literary pantheon, with the unusual distinction that your first published work of prose was in fact a memoir.

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