Alan Cheuse http://wvasfm.org en In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror http://wvasfm.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 45977 at http://wvasfm.org In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror 'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp http://wvasfm.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 45597 at http://wvasfm.org 'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time' http://wvasfm.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 45210 at http://wvasfm.org A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time' Book Review: 'The Divorce Papers' http://wvasfm.org/post/book-review-divorce-papers Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>The woe that is marriage, the subject of the Wife of Bath's prologue in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" has long been a rich subject for stories. Susan Rieger has just published a novel on the matter called "The Divorce Papers."<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: 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. The power and canniness of this bittersweet work of epistolary fiction, a first novel, really pulls you along. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 23:54:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 45017 at http://wvasfm.org Book Review: 'Falling Out Of Time' http://wvasfm.org/post/book-review-falling-out-time Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>"Falling Out of Time" is the name of a new novel by Israeli writer David Grossman. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse calls it a dramatic meditation on grief, reminiscent of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." [POST-BROADCAST CLARIFICATION: The book was translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen.]<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: The book opens with an immediate dramatic gesture, as narrated for us by the seemingly unbiased town chronicler. As they sit eating dinner, he announces, the man's face suddenly turns. He thrusts his plate away. Knives and forks clang. Tue, 18 Mar 2014 20:25:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 44869 at http://wvasfm.org All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers' http://wvasfm.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 44840 at http://wvasfm.org All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers' American Jazzmen Swing Overseas In 'Shanghai' http://wvasfm.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 44560 at http://wvasfm.org American Jazzmen Swing Overseas In 'Shanghai' Review: 'E.E. Cummings: A Life' http://wvasfm.org/post/review-ee-cummings-life Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>Spring 1958, the poet Edward Estlin Cummings, or E.E. Cummings as most of us know him, was a passenger in writer John Cheever's car. Cummings had just spoken at the school of Cheever's teenage daughter and she was sitting in the back seat. Well, that day kicked off a fascination that led to Susan Cheever's recent biography "E.E. Cummings: A Life." Alan Cheuse reviews the book and shares the origins of his own fascination with Cummings.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: It started with a poem. Mon, 10 Mar 2014 20:02:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 44389 at http://wvasfm.org Book Review: 'Night in Shanghai' http://wvasfm.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 43835 at http://wvasfm.org Lorrie Moore's New 'Bark' Is Half Of A Good Book http://wvasfm.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 43728 at http://wvasfm.org Lorrie Moore's New 'Bark' Is Half Of A Good Book