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Maine native's latest explores the power and perils of family

Elizabeth Strout was born in Portland and raised in a variety of small towns across Maine and New Hampshire. After an academic and professional career that sent her far and wide, she still spends time living in Maine, splitting her time between here and New York City.

She is also a Pulitzer Prize winner, having taken the award for fiction in 2009 for her short-story collection 'Olive Kitteridge.'

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 13:05

The best of baseball's worst

Who's on Worst?' looks at bottom of baseball's barrel

There are many reasons that we love sports, but one of the biggest is the fun found in athletic subjectivity. Using evidence both statistical and anecdotal to debate who was better or the best Russell or Wilt, Montana or Brady, Jordan or James - there's nothing better to a hardcore sports fan.

But of all the sports, baseball likely inspires more of these debates than any other. The game's deep dedication to history and devotion to ever-evolving statistical analysis makes it perfect for these sorts of conversations. Everyone's got their favorites and everyone has a reason why their guy is the best of all time.

Published in Sports
Collection offers look at society's fringes and failures

Short fiction is relatively easy to write. Good short fiction, however, is quite difficult. Any writer can tell a story in a few thousand words. Telling a story that makes an impact and moves the reader in those same few thousand words is an art that many writers will never master.

Sam Lipsyte's newest book 'The Fun Parts' (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; $24) is that rare collection that carries that art forward into full bloom. It's a baker's dozen worth of postcards from the edge; each of the 13 stories is a glimpse at the people existing on the fringe. The characters populating Lipsyte's literary landscape aren't the sort that the reader is meant to love or even to like, to be truthful but they are brought to life with sharply-honed cleverness and furious glee.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 13:35

Metafictional Miracles'

New novel offers insight into the nature of truth

Just how true must something be in order to be considered 'truth'? And what makes one truth truer than another?

These are the kinds of questions that sit at the center of 'Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles' (Viking; $26.95), the latest novel from acclaimed author (and Waterville resident) Ron Currie Jr. Through one man's physical, intellectual and emotional quests, the reader is swept up into a tale of love and loss - and yes, the nature of truth - told in a unique voice.

Published in Buzz

From the very earliest days of the science fiction genre, authors have been exploring the implications of moving back and forth in time. 

Author Sean Ferrell offers his own take on the genre in his newest novel 'Man in the Empty Suit' (Soho Press, $24.95). Rather than attack the concept of time travel on a macro level, Ferrell instead chooses to share a story on the micro level; it's the tale of one man the inventor of the time machine.

Our unnamed narrator is the first man to achieve time travel. However, after untold time spent traveling from the distant past to the future and back again, the outside world has begun to lose some of its appeal. So every year, he spends his birthday partying with himself.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 12:43

More than a game

Game Over' shows connection between sports and politics

In today's cultural landscape, sports are much more than what takes place on the field. 

With 'Game Over,' author Dave Zirin has laid out his case for a perhaps-unexpected truth: sports and politics are irrevocably intertwined. The political theater and the athletic arena share an undeniable overlap, and the sporting world can and does have a real effect on the realm of the political.

Published in Sports
Maine author's second historical mystery an even stronger offering

Last year, Maine author Kieran Shields blew me away with his debut novel 'The Truth of All Things;' I even included it in my 'Best Reads of 2012.' It was a wonderfully constructed historical mystery populated by a cast of fascinating characters.

His latest book is 'A Study in Revenge' (Crown, $25). In it, we once again pay a visit to the turn-of-the-century Portland that Shields has meticulously created. We also get to become reacquainted with his notable creations - Portland policeman Archie Lean and the indefatigable detective Perceval Grey.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 15:46

A future trip on the Great North Road'

Science fiction epic offers snapshot of humanity's future

The science fiction epic has become an increasingly rare thing. The genre has become a world of multi-book storylines and ongoing series to its ultimate benefit, truth be told. However, there is no reading experience quite like the well-done inches-thick doorstop of a sci-fi novel. Sometimes, you just crave 1,000 pages of future thriller.

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 20 December 2012 10:24

We Got To Play Baseball' a solid hit

Collection offers 60 stories from behind baseball's scenes

Of all the major American professional sports, perhaps none carries as much reverence and respect for its own history as baseball. It is a game built generationally, each era constructed on the foundation of the one that came before it.

It is also a game that comes to life not just through its numbers, but through its stories. That's what makes a book like 'We Got To Play Baseball' (Strategic Book Publishing, $15.95) such an engaging read.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 14:33

Turtledove continues Supervolcano' series

Second book carries on story of disaster's aftermath

Science fiction and fantasy have a tendency toward the epic. That tendency means that many authors within those genres will create extended series of three or more books to tell their single story. Sometimes, these series focus on a single character or event. Other times, they are more exercises in world-building.

Few authors exhibit a mastery of the series quite like Harry Turtledove.

Published in Buzz
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