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Ben Cosgrove

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More Trouble on Easy’s Street

Photo by Vincent LaforetDoes there exist a literary icon more thoroughly American than the California gumshoe? Marked (or scarred) by a self-created solitude and forever operating along that wavering line between established order and an improvised, personal code of honor, the laconic, resourceful private dick endures. Walter Mosley’s Ezekiel “Easy”......
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The Awakening

Illustration by John E. MinerThe opening scene of Francine Prose’s new novel is pretty irresistible: A tense, duffel-bag-carrying skinhead walks out of the sweltering Manhattan heat into the cool, elegant midtown offices of a Jewish-run human-rights watchdog group. Any sensible, sensitive reader would of course stay tuned to find out......
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The Resistance

The most frequently invoked American cliché of the last few years might be exceedingly simple-minded, but it also has the benefit of being true: 9/11 was the day that changed the world forever. In his latest collection of short fiction, Barry Lopez addresses the premonitory tremors and staggering aftershocks of......
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White Noise

Happy families resemble one another, as Tolstoy observed, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way — and Richard Madelin’s unsettling debut, Careful!, portrays one very unhappy family. An English widow, Alice, manipulates her youngest son, Lenny, into kidnapping his estranged older brother, Jack, who ran away from......
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High on Fidelity

Critics praised Canadian poet Michael Redhill’s debut novel, Martin Sloane (2002), as “elegant,” “thoughtful,” “lyrical” — plaudits that, while justified, suggest an aesthetic more attuned to the intellect than to the gut. A long look back at the loves and career of a “found object” artist, the book brilliantly dissected......
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The Disillusioned Spy

Loyalty. Power. Love. Betrayal. Like all great writers, John Le Carré sticks to the classic grand themes. And, like his fellow masters of the espionage thriller, in each new work he returns to those themes with new questions, grounding his cloak-and-dagger tales in the romantic, political and psychological muck of......
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Modern Irish

Of all the hastily embraced literary genres of the past few decades, “magical realism” is surely one of the most meaningless. With writers as dissimilar in style and intent as Kathy Acker, Nathanael West, Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez lumped together in the same pot, one has to......
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The Road to Happiness

Illustration By Shino Arihara After four decades of publishing somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 novels, novellas, essays, short-story collections, children’s and young-adult books, poetry volumes and plays, it seems Joyce Carol Oates still has a surprise or two up her ink-stained sleeve. Her most recent novel, The Tattooed Girl,......
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Sex, Delusion and Death

At its core, the story in Best Friends, Thomas Berger’s 22nd novel, is simple — and ancient. Two men, one woman. Friendship and betrayal. Lust, despair and death. Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere. Mark, Tristram and Isolde. This time around, we recognize the outlines of the classic tale, but as in......
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Angling for Absolution

Axel Vander has a problem: Someone has stolen his identity. Someone has filched his name, his history, his ideas, his life. Fortunately for Vander, he knows who the culprit is. Unfortunately for Vander, he himself is the thief. Or is he? Welcome to John Banville's protean fictive universe, where no......