Jeff Giles

Living With A Wild God

LIVING WITH A WILD GOD Barbara Ehrenreich

Nobody ever writes memoirs about the upside of having crappy parents. One of the subtexts of Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book, though, is that if her folks hadn’t been so out of it — her father’s alcoholism spreading to her mother like a virus — they would have noticed that their daughter was consumed by metaphysical thoughts and hallucinogenic visions. It’s a good thing they were oblivious.

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BARK Lorrie Moore

If you had to criticize one thing about Lorrie Moore — and I don’t know why you would, because she’s awesome — it might be that her humor and her world-weary sense of the absurd are almost too distinctive. An improbable number of characters in her stories, after all, say the same sort of weird, bleakly hilarious stuff. It’s a bit like the restaurant scene in Being John Malkovich where everyone, male and female, has John Malkovich’s face.

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The Woody Allen Scandal Reignites

One of the more asinine questions transfixing the entertainment media these days runs as follows: Dylan Farrow just penned a devastating essay about her alleged molestation at the hands of her father, Woody Allen, when she was 7 years old. Will the essay, you know, hurt Cate Blanchett’s Oscar chances? The question is just meaningless chatter from journalists who’ve had no new evidence to gnaw on in 21 years. But more than that, it’s a reminder that the whole conflagration is almost too painful to look at square in the eye.

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Careless People

CARELESS PEOPLE Sarah Churchwell

If you put all the books about F. Scott Fitzgerald in a stack, the resulting tower would be — apologies for the scientific jargon — really, really tall. In fact, it would almost certainly fall over. So it takes a bold writer to try tossing another one on the pile — and here comes one now! Sarah Churchwell’s Careless People concerns the writing of The Great Gatsby and the cultural and societal forces that inspired its superdrunk author.

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Death of The Black-Haired Girl


If you’ve never read Stone, this is not the place to start — I know that because it’s the place where I started. Death of the Black-Haired Girl concerns a callous college professor having an affair with a fiery, loose-cannon student. When he dumps her, some big dominoes start falling, thanks to class rage, the politics of morality, and assorted other fixtures of the American landscape. The novel is unsettling and tightly wrought — and a worthy cautionary tale about capital-C consequences — but it feels minor.

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Men We Reaped

REAP WHAT YOU SOW Author Jesmyn Ward's Men We Reaped is a heartrending memoir about her childhood in Mississippi

If you’re looking for reasons to avoid reading Jesmyn Ward’s memoir, Men We Reaped, you can start with the tough subject matter: It’s about growing up poor in Mississippi, about racism, and about young black men dying with such regularity that it’s as if society were enacting some effed-up pagan ritual. Or you could avoid the book because it’ll make you care. Ward’s childhood will mess with your heart, just like it messed with hers.

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GOOD GRIEF Author Paul Harding revisits the same family from his debut novel Tinkers , exploring the tragedy that befalls the father

A New England dad loses his daughter in a car crash, then loses his wife in the wake of the tragedy, then loses what would be colloquially called his s—. Harding is a superb stylist — he won the Pulitzer for his debut novel, Tinkers, about the same family — but grief is such an overharvested field, especially post-9/11, that the first 100 pages are more stately than stunning.

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