Issue of January 17, 2010

Sometimes I feel as if I travel around the world and through the centuries with our contributors. This week certainly is one of those. From a novelized inquiry into the effect of Cuban affairs to vampire-ish fun with Jane Austen, and from the role of marriage and love in society to an exploration of the serious (and not-serious) world of young adult literature, we’ve got it for you. We’ll even throw in some rain for your reading time!

Nicki Leone shares her love of a fine, delicate novel set in 1994 Havana that traces the path of an old man’s integrity and character when he is faced with the pitfalls of a political and social system that suddenly changes, and finds that one choice he makes sets him on a path that proves the ruins in his life are no longer those just outside himself in To Be Salao.

Jane Austen never lived to see herself famous, but in an entertaining new novel, that’s exactly what happens. All is not roses, however, since there are a few complications. She can’t make any profit off the Austen craze; she can’t even find a publisher for her new book. And then there’s the secret of her long life: she became a vampire thanks to an escapade with Lord Byron in Lev Raphael’s Posthumous Fame Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be.

A massive storm hit the southern California coast on Sunday afternoon and, if the weather reports are right, it will bring a biblical amount of rain to Lauren’s area over the next week. What’s a girl to do? Why stock up on portable lighting (the better to read by) of course. And choose a book. Lauren Roberts talks about these dual “Rs” in Raining Books.

A new memoir from the author of Eat, Pray, Love turned out to be much more than a sequel. Lindsay Champion, in Commitment Issues, shares her perceptions of a surprisingly “substantial” second book that turns an eye to the study of marriage and love even while continuing the author’s story and her determination to find her own way in a social world that doesn’t particularly like nonconformity in societal institutions like marriage.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted takes to the disrespectful road again in her pursuit of authors to diss. This time around, she captures the author of Little Bee, and in the ensuing conversation manages to uncover the issue of height in an authorial role, plus some more serious ideas in The Disrespectful Interviewer: Dissing Chris Cleave

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