Alan Cheuse http://www.kplu.org en In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror http://www.kplu.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 16:20:31 +0000 Alan Cheuse 15787 at http://www.kplu.org In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror 'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp http://www.kplu.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 16:25:17 +0000 Alan Cheuse 15544 at http://www.kplu.org 'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time' http://www.kplu.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 13:04:46 +0000 Alan Cheuse 15269 at http://www.kplu.org A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time' All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers' http://www.kplu.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 17:32:12 +0000 Alan Cheuse 14980 at http://www.kplu.org All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers' Lorrie Moore's New 'Bark' Is Half Of A Good Book http://www.kplu.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 17:25:56 +0000 Alan Cheuse 14127 at http://www.kplu.org Lorrie Moore's New 'Bark' Is Half Of A Good Book Historical Trauma Makes For Thrilling Fiction In 'Officer And A Spy' http://www.kplu.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 18:41:16 +0000 Alan Cheuse 13052 at http://www.kplu.org Historical Trauma Makes For Thrilling Fiction In 'Officer And A Spy' All The Varieties Of Love And Madness, On Display In 'Carthage' http://www.kplu.org/post/all-varieties-love-and-madness-display-carthage On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the publication of her first novel, Joyce Carol Oates has outdone herself. This year she will have brought out <em>three</em> books of fiction — a new volume of novellas this past autumn, a new book of stories coming out this spring, and just now a new novel, a feat that testifies to the prodigious nature of her imagination and the unstoppable force of her writing powers.<p>"Stop me before I write again," wrote the waggish critic James Wolcott more than 30 years ago, assailing Oates' work in <em>Harper's</em>. Thu, 23 Jan 2014 18:21:27 +0000 Alan Cheuse 12812 at http://www.kplu.org All The Varieties Of Love And Madness, On Display In 'Carthage' Remembering Tom Clancy, 'Faulkner In A Flak Jacket' http://www.kplu.org/post/remembering-tom-clancy-faulkner-flak-jacket The Army rejected him because of his bad eyes — he was nearsighted — but Tom Clancy, who went into the family insurance business instead of the military, turned out to have the greatest vision of modern warfare of any writer of our time. Thu, 03 Oct 2013 16:42:37 +0000 Alan Cheuse 10257 at http://www.kplu.org Remembering Tom Clancy, 'Faulkner In A Flak Jacket'