Literature

Marginalia

Ruminations on Exit Ghost -- and the responsibility of fiction
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paulr@sfbg.com

Reading a work of fiction is a little like getting into someone else's car for a trip that someone else has planned without consulting you: it's an act of trust. The car pulls up and you climb in. You hope that the headlights and brakes are in working order and that there is no liquor on the driver's breath. You assume that the driver knows the route, even if you don't; you assume the destination is a worthy one, even if you've never heard of it. Discreetly you fasten your seat belt. Read more »

The art world

The Learning to Love You More project exposes creative forces across the globe
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lit@sfbg.com

REVIEW Somewhere along a Los Angeles freeway, a couple have a tense conversation about hamburgers. In Southwick, Mass., three women allow their hair to be braided together, and a Houston resident writes the eventful story of her life in a day. In a bedroom in Sydney, Australia, the dress a young woman wore the day she lost her virginity is laid out on the floor, along with the shoes that, she notes, stayed on for the duration. Read more »

Marginalia

Invasion of the party snatchers
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>paulr@sfbg.com

When the obituary of the Republican Party is written, it will be noted that the GOP died of war wounds, many but not all of them taken during the kamikaze mission in Iraq. For over the past half century, it has gone from being the party of cautious, America-first realism to one of reflexive belligerence; its embrace of militarism has been passionate and, perhaps, fatal. Read more »

The big guns

The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps brings back the dames, the dicks, and the dirty deeds of a bygone era
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lit@sfbg.com

REVIEW Over the past 15 years, a steady stream of good, bad, and indifferent anthologies has promised to deliver the thrills of pulp fiction. Read more »

Shorts

Foreskin's Lament, Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm, Shortcomings, and more
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FORESKIN'S LAMENT

By Shalom Auslander

Riverhead Books

320 pages, $24.95

It's possible that one of the 613 commandments in the Torah is "Thou shall not read Foreskin's Lament." Which of course means read it. If you've got the time, read it twice, once from right to left. You'll still laugh. Read more »

Cemetery days

Poems smuggled out of Buchenwald record two sisters' observations from inside a living hell
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lit@sfbg.com

REVIEW A smaller selection of the poems in A Wall of Two would have been easier to take. Presented here in more than 50 bone-shaking adaptations by poet Fanny Howe, the devastating early works by sisters Henia and Ilona Karmel, survivors of the German concentration camp Buchenwald, are so harrowing I could read only a few at a time. Read more »

All that noise

New Yorker critic Alex Ross surveys the many faces of 20th-century classical music
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Boundary issues

In her story collection The Entire Predicament, Lucy Corin investigates the unstable line between public and private life
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Fast, cheap, and out of control

Former labor secretary Robert Reich examines the heavy price we pay for prospering as consumers in "Supercapitalism"
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tredmond@sfbg.com

Click here for the Guardian's interview with Robert Reich.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 led a lot of pundits to talk about “the end of History.” The big battle of our lives, the defining philosophical and political conflict of the century, was over. Communism lost. Read more »

Marginalia

A fine piece of class
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The boarding school novel has long been a droopy flower in the garden of American literature, and its wanness can be explained only in part by the fact that we don't have many boarding schools. Read more »