Hillary Johnson

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Punk, No Boats

The Pharmacist‘s Mate is, as its publisher says, “a very sad and very moving” book. It is the fourth offering from the crew that publishes McSweeney’s, a literary magazine that is so doggedly droll and idiosyncratic that you want to tear your hair out despite kind of liking the thing......
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The Short Story

As if it weren’t enough that the cover of Susan Perabo‘s first collection of stories, Who I Was Supposed To Be, shows a dog apparently driving a car, or that the frontispiece features a quote from James Baldwin’s ”Sonny‘s Blues,“ the dust jacket reports that Perabo was the first woman......
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The Short Story

We’re used to thinking of fiction as either genre or literary: The one follows a formula, and must meet certain expectations lawfully held by the reader; the other is supposed to be — well, it isn’t supposed to be anything in particular, except better than the other. In practice, literary......
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The Short Story

Matthew Klam writes exclusively about men interacting with women. Sometimes he sounds like a slick version of British novelist Nick Hornby, who is also good the way Klam is good, at writing about the average guy’s unexamined emotional status. Klam‘s stories are sharp, gorgeous, and clean as a whistle, like......
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Sarajevo and Chicago

In his first collection of short stories, Bosnian writer Aleksandar Hemon invokes the image of Joseph Conrad on more than one occasion. Like Conrad, Hemon is a refugee, not just from his homeland, but from his language, writing in recently acquired English (Hemon arrived in this country in 1992, with......
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Raising Wade

Literature is full of novels about children, but novels where the point of view is distinctly parental -- these are few and far between. Children who survive terrible childhoods often grow up to write about them, but the survivors of hair-raising bouts of parenting are less likely to publish their......
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Rear Window

Photo by Debra DiPaoloACCORDING TO NEIGHBORS, THE LATE LEMOINE Redmond often stood in her Echo Park yard, topless and muttering, feeding dog food to tree frogs. She had hair on her chin and conspiracies on her mind. Toward the end of her life, she had only kerosene lamps for light......
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We

Every once in a while you read something, usually a piece of fiction, that leaves you with a strong, specific impression of a thing completely alien to your own experience. It feels like you’ve been through a Vulcan mind-meld. This is something Jhumpa Lahiri is very good at: Her characters......
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True Detective

St. Martin's PressA RECENT SYMPOSIUM IN HARPER'S MAGAZINE HAD half a dozen querulous scholars weighing in on the age-old question of William Shakespeare's "true" identity. Of course none of the scholars agreed, almost none of them made sense, and the glaringly obvious conclusion to be drawn from their bickering was:......
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Mistress of the Everyday

Photo by R.J. MunaTHERE ARE AROUND 75 PEOPLE AT CHITRA BANERJEE Divakaruni's reading at Dutton's Brentwood, among them many young Indian women in varying degrees of Western dress; students; wives; professionals; and nearly as many Indian men, some in suits, others sporting slightly nontraditional outfits. Divakaruni herself is wearing a......