Vegas Seven

Bookini

  • Bookini

    We Are Called to Read

    By M. Scott Krause

    Are we all familiar with Chekhov’s gun? It’s one of the maxims of dramatic storytelling, according to Anton Chekhov, the master playwright and short-story writer. Basically, if an author introduces a gun in the first act of a story or play, that gun must be fired at some point. Las Vegas novelist Laura McBride—who was […]

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    With the Return of a Popular Defense Attorney, this Thriller is a ‘Cut’ Above the Rest

    By M. Scott Krause

    John Lescroart is a prolific writer of legal and crime-based thrillers with two dozen novels to his name. Readers all over the world love Lescroart, and he’s got the sales figures (15 best-sellers) and translations (20 languages and counting) to prove it. His latest effort, The Ophelia Cut (Atria Books, $27), features the return of his most popular character, San Francisco defense attorney Dismas Hardy. This is my very first encounter with Lescroart, but even I can understand what a big deal this is.

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    Follow this ‘Guide’ on a Literary Exploration of the Circle of Life

    By M. Scott Krause

    The stories in Ramona Ausubel’s new collection, A Guide to Being Born, will appeal to readers who are willing to make a certain intellectual commitment, appreciate lyricism and delight in the absurd.

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    Tweep-Turned-Author Off to a ‘Perfect’ Start

    By M. Scott Krause

    Kelly Oxford is a legitimate Twitter phenomenon with more than 507,000 followers, including Jimmy Kimmel and Mindy Kaling. She’s not the first person to parlay humorous tweets into a book deal (Justin Halpern did it in 2010 with Sh*t My Dad Says), but this 35-year-old mother of three is something special. Her new book, Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar (It Books, $26), proves her sassy sense of humor isn’t limited to 140-character bursts.

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    ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ is a Red-Letter Read

    By M. Scott Krause

    The title of Adam Alter’s Drunk Tank Pink comes from a late-’70s experiment that revealed “the miraculous tranquilizing power of bright pink.” Once researchers noted test subjects were significantly weaker after staring at a piece of pink cardboard, prisons started painting their holding cells pink. Public housing enjoyed less vandalism after a new coat of pink paint, and community buses installed pink seats.

  • Reading

    Forgive Us for Not Recommending the Bland but Passable ‘A Thousand Pardons’

    By M. Scott Krause

    If you like your contemporary fiction nice and safe, look no further than Jonathan Dee’s A Thousand Pardons (Random House, $26). The plot is layered and reasonably paced, but the novel has no sharp edges. It is almost completely free of any stylistic flair, there’s nothing here that announces “This is a novel that must be read.”

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    Delight in Nick Hornby’s latest book about books

    By M. Scott Krause

    It’s very easy to like Nick Hornby. As a bookseller, I was an early supporter of his novels, pressing dozens of copies of High Fidelity (1995) and About a Boy (1998) into the minds and hands of eager readers. In 2003, Hornby started writing a popular book column for The Believer magazine called “Stuff I’ve Been Reading.” Those columns filled three collections: The Polysyllabic Spree (2004), Housekeeping vs. the Dirt (2006), and Shakespeare Wrote for Money (2008). Hornby abandoned the column in 2008, but returned in 2010.

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    A Million Heavens could do without purgatory

    By Chantal Corcoran

    The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that author John Brandon “is a great young writer who can—and probably will—do just about anything.” With his third book, A Million Heavens (McSweeneys Books, $24), it appears that the 35-year-old means to give anything a try.

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    Charles Yu’s short stories offer an imaginative critique on consumerism

    By M. Scott Krause

    Charles Yu writes intelligent and sophisticated speculative fiction with a real sense of humor, so comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams are frequent and inevitable, but not altogether accurate. His new collection of short stories, Sorry Please Thank You (Pantheon Books, $25), presents a hodgepodge of ideas—some of them only partially realized—designed to entertain and provoke readers’ minds.

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    In the age of miracle book advances, this author almost lives up to her hype

    By M. Scott Krause

    There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles, and with good reason: Random House paid $1 million for the privilege of publishing this first novel, a figure that does not include foreign rights or a movie deal. Pretty miraculous, considering literary fiction isn’t exactly flying off bookstore shelves.

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    This memoir of magic will mesmerize you

    By M. Scott Krause

    Alex Stone’s Fooling Houdini is truly something special. A fan of magic since age 5 and an accomplished performer, Stone has written a deeply personal memoir of his love affair with magic that successfully juggles centuries of history, personal anecdotes and scientific concepts. It’s a joy for both magicians and fans, a meditation on how magic works and why. As audience members we delight in being tricked, but Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind (HarperCollins, $27) is a satisfying treat.

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    Reverend America preaches a twisted gospel

    By M. Scott Krause

    There are flashes of brilliance throughout Reverend America, Kris Saknussemm’s ambitious new novel about an albino faith healer who becomes the unlikely guardian of a pregnant teenage prostitute. It’s a serio-comic romp about faith, sin and redemption, utterly original and unlike anything I’ve read in ages, but also challenging at times and not without problems.

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    Say ‘goodbye’ to this Pulitzer Prize winner’s 19th novel

    By M. Scott Krause

    I have enormous respect for Anne Tyler, which is why I’ve struggled for several days with the following statement: “I’ve just read The Beginner’s Goodbye (Knopf Publishing Group, $25), and I’m sorry to report that it isn’t very good.” Is that even possible? Tyler, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for her novel Breathing Lessons, has been writing best-selling, award-winning fiction for almost five decades. She’s 70 now, and The Beginner’s Goodbye is her 19th novel. This isn’t a case of sophomore slump; Tyler is the undisputed and much-heralded Bard of Baltimore.

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    This biography of a once-great writer achieves greatness itself

    By M. Scott Krause

    William Hjortsberg’s Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life And Times of Richard Brautigan is a staggering achievement, a truly wonderful and thoughtful biography. But it’s very difficult to fully appreciate just how good it is unless you’re already familiar with the book’s subject.

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    Girl Land offers no insights into the land of girls

    By M. Scott Krause

    Caitlin Flanagan’s Girl Land is a long-winded rant about adolescent girls and their emotional journey to womanhood and sexual maturity. It’s clearly a worthwhile subject, but I found myself increasingly annoyed as I read it. Flanagan’s book is a series of broad and sweeping generalizations, long on opinions and short on facts. The result is a truly excruciating read, an eye-roller instead of an eye-opener.

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