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The quest for immortality is one on which people have embarked since we developed the existential understanding of what it means to die. Call it the fountain of youth, the philosopher’s stone, the elixir of life – whatever it is, it is meant to extend our lives beyond the limits nature has set upon them.

But even those who are single-mindedly devoted to that quest may need fellow travelers – and those travels can sometimes lead to something more meaningful than life everlasting.

Jake Wolff’s “The History of Living Forever” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; $27) is the story of one such quest – a quest that threads through the past, present and future and sweeps into its maelstrom two people whose all too brief connection would have widely rippling impacts on their lives and the lives of those around them.

It is a story of devotion, both to the ideas we hold dear and to the dear people who first conveyed those ideas to us. It is about different kinds of love and what it means to sacrifice. It is about bad decisions made for good reasons. It is about believing that science can explain everything – including magic.

Published in Style

Novel combines disparate genre elements to excellent effect

Published in Buzz
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

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