Alan Cheuse http://publicradioeast.org en Book Review: 'Shooting Star' http://publicradioeast.org/post/book-review-shooting-star Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>A 30-year-old novel has just been translated to English but keeps its Spanish name, "Muerte En Una Estrella." The author is Sergio Elizondo, and the translators are Rosaura Sanchez and Beatrice Pita. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it crackles.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Elizondo finds a story written decades ago, but still fresh, in incidents from the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and '70s. Tue, 08 Jul 2014 20:13:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 45870 at http://publicradioeast.org Book Review: 'The Expedition To The Boabab Tree' http://publicradioeast.org/post/book-review-expedition-boabab-tree Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>The journey of a girl sold into slavery is the topic of a compelling piece of fiction out of South Africa. It's called "The Expedition To The Boabab Tree." The author is poet Wilma Stockenstrom. She originally published it back in 1981, and now it has been translated from the Africaans by Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee and published in the United States. Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:17:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 45253 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Warburg' Struggles For Love And Justice In Wartime Rome http://publicradioeast.org/post/book-review-warburg-rome James Carroll, who served as a Catholic priest before his literary ambitions led him to go secular, has gathered together his knowledge of church history and his mature powers as a novelist to create <em>Warburg in Rome</em>, his most splendid work of fiction to date.<p>Though the novel never really settles squarely as either historical fiction or historical thriller, it offers the best of both worlds. Fri, 27 Jun 2014 20:07:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 45060 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Warburg' Struggles For Love And Justice In Wartime Rome Book Review: 'No Country' http://publicradioeast.org/post/book-review-no-country Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Kalyan Ray has been busy. The Bangladesh-born writer is also a translator and actor. That may be why 10 years have passed since his first novel was released. And reviewer Alan Cheuse is happy his second is now out.<p>ALAN CHEUSE: "No Country" is a rousing adventure made up out of the blood and guts and dreams of people on three continents and nearly 150 years of troubled history. Tue, 24 Jun 2014 20:15:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 44768 at http://publicradioeast.org Summer Reading: Three Books To Take You To New Frontiers http://publicradioeast.org/post/summer-reading-three-books-take-you-new-frontiers Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.<p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>And I'm Audie Cornish. You don't need a ticket to travel this summer. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, has packed a small bag of books that he says will send you to Alaska, Siberia and Tasmania. Here's Alan on three debut works.<p>ALAN CHEUSE: Rachel Weaver's novel "Point of Direction" takes us to contemporary Alaska and she fumbles around a little before figuring out how best to tell her story. But once she gets it moving, it pulls you in. Wed, 11 Jun 2014 20:18:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 43713 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Night Heron' And 'The Director' Provide A Double Shot Of Intrigue http://publicradioeast.org/post/night-heron-and-director-provide-double-shot-intrigue I suppose it's preaching to the converted to announce that David Ignatius has done it again. But here he is, having written yet another deeply engaging spy thriller, rooted at that point where the intricacies of the intelligence community and the everyday world of civilians converge. Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:08:48 +0000 Alan Cheuse 43094 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Night Heron' And 'The Director' Provide A Double Shot Of Intrigue Book Review: 'The Director' and 'Night Heron' http://publicradioeast.org/post/book-review-director-and-night-heron Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.<p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>And I'm Robert Siegel. Now, two new spy novels, both written by journalists - one by an old hand of the genre, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius - the other by a first-time novelist, Adam Brookes at the BBC. Alan Cheuse has our reviews.<p>ALAN CHEUSE: Ignatius's novel "The Director" takes us into the heart of the CIA as communications mogul Graham Weber assumes his post as the newly appointed head of the intelligence agency. Tue, 03 Jun 2014 20:08:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 43058 at http://publicradioeast.org McMurtry Takes Aim At A Legend In 'Last Kind Words Saloon' http://publicradioeast.org/post/mcmurtry-takes-aim-legend-last-kind-words-saloon In a prefatory note to <em>The Last Kind Words Saloon</em>, his first novel in five years, Western writer supreme Larry McMurtry states that he wants to create a "ballad in prose." And he borrows a line from great moviemaker John Ford: "When legend becomes fact, print the legend."<p>Set in the autumn of the 19th century, mainly in Texas, Colorado, and Arizona, McMurtry's slender book contains a multitude of familiar and unfamiliar Western characters, including some who do belong to legend as well as history: part-time lawman Wyatt Earp and gun-toting dentist Doc Holliday, back together again. Tue, 27 May 2014 21:05:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 42487 at http://publicradioeast.org Everyday Life Is a Rich Mine Of Absurdity In 'American Innovations' http://publicradioeast.org/post/book-review-american-innovations Richard Ford talks about understanding voice in fiction as "the music of the story's intelligence." It's been a long while since I've read short fiction by a new writer who makes that idea seem so definitive. But here is <em>American Innovations</em>, the first collection by Rivka Galchen. She lives in New York City, attended medical school, writes for the New Yorker, and has already published one novel. Wed, 14 May 2014 20:00:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 41392 at http://publicradioeast.org Everyday Life Is a Rich Mine Of Absurdity In 'American Innovations' A Fractured Tale Of Time, War And A Really Big Diamond http://publicradioeast.org/post/fractured-tale-time-war-and-really-big-diamond No book I've read all year underscores the distinctions between the long form and the short story more than the award-winning story writer Anthony Doerr's new novel <em>All the Light We Cannot See</em>.<p>The book takes place in Europe — in three locations, mainly — Hitler's Germany, Paris, and the walled seaside town of Saint-Malo in Brittany, from the mid-1930s to the roaring and murderous years of World War II. Sat, 10 May 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 41036 at http://publicradioeast.org A Fractured Tale Of Time, War And A Really Big Diamond In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror http://publicradioeast.org/post/paradise-finding-understanding-ruins-horror Over the course of his long and distinguished writing career, Peter Matthiessen — who died this past weekend at the age of 86 — chased numerous demons, from Florida outlaws to missionaries and mercenaries in South America. In his latest novel, which the ailing writer suggested would be his last, takes us back to a week-long conference held at Auschwitz in 1996. Tue, 08 Apr 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 38363 at http://publicradioeast.org In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror 'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp http://publicradioeast.org/post/frog-music-sounds-barbaric-invigorating-yawp San Francisco in the summer of the 1876, between the Gold Rush and the smallpox epidemic, is the setting for Emma Donoghue's boisterous new novel, <em>Frog Music.</em><p>There's real frog music in these pages, the riveting cries of the creatures hunted by Jenny Bonnet, one of the two main characters. She's a pistol-packing, pants-wearing gal in a town where pants on women are one of the few cardinal sins, and she scratches out a living catching frogs and selling them to local restaurants.<p>As the book opens, Jenny comes rolling along a busy San Francisco street on a stolen bicycle. Tue, 01 Apr 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 37786 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time' http://publicradioeast.org/post/lyrical-meditation-grief-falling-out-time I am a mortal reader; I have my flaws. I don't usually enjoy prose poems or novels written in lines of poetry, and when I see character types with names in capital letters like the ones that appear in Israeli writer David Grossman's new <em>Falling Out of Time</em> — The Walking Man, the Net Mender, the Midwife, the Town Chronicler — I tend to prepare to pack up, close the book, and turn to something less allegorical.<p>But wow! Tue, 25 Mar 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 37254 at http://publicradioeast.org A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time' All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers' http://publicradioeast.org/post/all-sides-divorce-told-fresh-lively-papers The "woe that is in marriage," the subject of the Wife of Bath's Prologue in Chaucer's <em>Canterbury Tales</em>, is a great old subject. Susan Rieger's smart and wonderfully entertaining domestic comedy, with all its shifts of tone from the personal to the legal and a lot in between, takes up this old problem and makes it fresh and lively — and in some places so painful, because it has to do with a child torn between two parents, you don't want to go on. But you do. The power and canniness of this bittersweet work of epistolary fiction pulls you along. Tue, 18 Mar 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 36697 at http://publicradioeast.org All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers' American Jazzmen Swing Overseas In 'Shanghai' http://publicradioeast.org/post/american-jazzmen-swing-overseas-shanghai The thing about historical novels is that above all else, they must stand as good fiction. If not, the reader's supposed trip back into the past isn't worth the time or the token. Thu, 13 Mar 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 36314 at http://publicradioeast.org American Jazzmen Swing Overseas In 'Shanghai' Book Review: 'Night in Shanghai' http://publicradioeast.org/post/book-review-night-shanghai Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>Shanghai in 1936 was on the verge of Japanese occupation. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it makes a terrific setting for new novel by Nicole Mones. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 21:07:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 35325 at http://publicradioeast.org Lorrie Moore's New 'Bark' Is Half Of A Good Book http://publicradioeast.org/post/lorrie-moores-new-bark-half-good-book There are eight stories in Lorrie Moore's new collection, but only two of them really stand out. Moore's one of the country's most admired writers – and maybe I was so dazzled by the brilliance and power of the two longest stories in these pages that I couldn't read the other pieces — which I found either a little off-kilter or too subtly played — without feeling a certain amount of loss. But my possibly cock-eyed view of <em>Bark</em> is that it's a book, or at least half a book, that anyone who loves contemporary fiction should have a go at. Wed, 26 Feb 2014 12:03:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 35180 at http://publicradioeast.org Lorrie Moore's New 'Bark' Is Half Of A Good Book Book Review: 'Bark' http://publicradioeast.org/post/book-review-bark Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>Writer Lorrie Moore is known for her clever word play and incisive wit. Now, she's out with a new collection of short stories, her first in 16 years. It's called "Bark." Alan Cheuse has our review.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Maybe I was so dazzled by the brilliance and power of the two longest stories in this collection that I couldn't read the other pieces, which I found a little off-kilter or too subtly played, without feeling a certain amount of loss. Tue, 25 Feb 2014 21:05:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 35144 at http://publicradioeast.org Review: 'An Officer And A Spy' http://publicradioeast.org/post/review-officer-and-spy Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.<p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>And I'm Melissa Block.<p>Now a bit of historical fiction for you. It's the new book by novelist Robert Harris about the Dreyfus Affair that made headlines in the late 1890s and shook the French military to its core. Mon, 10 Feb 2014 22:13:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 34023 at http://publicradioeast.org Historical Trauma Makes For Thrilling Fiction In 'Officer And A Spy' http://publicradioeast.org/post/historical-trauma-makes-thrilling-fiction-officer-and-spy For the historical novelist, the past sometimes seems like one great filing cabinet of material that may lend itself to successful novelization. And in the case of France's so-called "Belle Epoque," the gifted English writer Robert Harris seems to have opened the right drawer. His latest novel, <em>An Officer and a Spy</em>, is set during this period of peace and prosperity between the end of the Franco-Prussian war and the lead-up to the First World War. Thu, 30 Jan 2014 17:02:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 33197 at http://publicradioeast.org Historical Trauma Makes For Thrilling Fiction In 'Officer And A Spy'