Friday, 07 June 2013 08:51

Playing through 18 in America'

Teenager recounts cross-country golf odyssey

It sometimes seems like every young writer has a coming-of-age story that needs to be gotten out of his or her system. Most of them tend to be semi-autobiographical after all, when you're young, your own experiences tend to feel incredibly significant.

However, few have the audacity to actually live such a story.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 11:32

The ride of your life Joyland'

King's powerful new novel defies genre definition

Truly great storytellers are a rare and precious thing. Few (if any) contemporary authors tell as good a story as Stephen King does. Back in the day, King was too often painted by the 'horror' brush and semi-dismissed. While things have certainly changed in the past decade-plus, there are still those who look at him as a penner of scary stories and nothing more.

But he's more than that. Much, much more. And his latest offering, 'Joyland' (Hard Case Crime, $12.95), is simply one more example of how truly great he can be.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 13:20

Roam if you want to

'The Kings and Queens of Roam' Wallace at his finest

Placing elements of the magical or mystical into a realistic world setting doesn't always work. Sometimes, it feels forced as if someone is trying to tell two separate stories simultaneously, with the disparate elements failing to synchronize.

But when magical realism works, it really works.


Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 14:31

Paternity pains Someone Could Get Hurt'

Parenthood memoir offers plenty of laughs

We all have writers whose work we enjoy. Whether they are novelists, biographers, historians or bloggers, everyone who reads has writers who resonate with them for whatever reason. And if one of your favorites writes something new, you check it out even if the subject matter isn't necessarily what you would expect.

My familiarity with Drew Magary springs primarily from his columns on the sports blog Deadspin and to a lesser extent his work as a correspondent for GQ. One of Magary's regular Deadspin features is a segment he calls 'Dadspin,' in which he relates the trials and tribulations of parenthood in his own wildly funny and impeccably profane voice. 

Published in Livin'
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:10

The 5th Wave' powerful and compelling

Young adult book quality reading for all ages

While it is important to make a distinction when it comes to young adult fiction, there is no doubt that YA literature is at its absolute best when it blurs that line between 'young' and 'adult.' Just because a book's primary audience skews younger doesn't mean that it can't be well-written. It doesn't mean that it has to be condescending in any way. Kids know when they are being talked down to; the best YA stuff always respects the intelligence of its audience.

Make way for the next big thing in young adult fiction. 'The 5th Wave' (Putnam, $18.99) is coming.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 12:13

Mars noir Red Planet Blues'

Sci-fi detective story a ripping good read

Science fiction is first and foremost a literature of ideas. However, without an engaging story behind them, those ideas tend to fall flat.

What makes a good science fiction writer great is the ability to infuse gripping sci-fi with ideas that are both grandiose and grounded feasible futures. Robert J. Sawyer is one of the most consistent authors out there in bringing readers that dynamic blend.

Published in Buzz
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
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