When Fiona Maazel published her first novel, Last Last Chance, in 2008, her frenetic imagination and sharply etched characters earned her a spot on the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 authors list. Her 29-year-old narrator, Lucy, was heading into her seventh stretch in rehab; Maazel filtered her addiction, grief, self-involvement and fear through a scrim of dark humor.
There's a comic overlay to her second, even more frenzied and inventive novel, Woke Up Lonely. But the tilt toward pathos is stronger.
On many occasions in my longtime relationship with cookbooks, I have had this experience (which will sound familiar, if you like Middle Eastern flavors as much as I do). I'm happily paging through my new Moroccan or Lebanese or Israeli book, lost in dreams of lamb and sumac, saffron and figs. "Mmmm," I murmur over a glossy page, "that looks delicious."
I trace my finger down the ingredients list. Shallots, check. Tomatoes, check. Cinnamon stick, check. And then there it is: Preserved lemon. "Drat," I think. "Foiled again."
In an essay for Sports Blog Nation, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Stephen Dunn reflects on his path from college basketball player to poet. "What basketball and poetry have in common," he writes, "is that they each provide opportunities to be better than yourself — opportunities for transcendence."
Mental is madder than madcap. I heard one critic sniff, "It's kind of broad" — and, Your Honor, the defense agrees! But if broad means "unsubtle," it doesn't have to mean "unreal." Mental makes most other movies seem boringly, misleadingly sane.
And finally, the latest in our series Muses and Metaphors. We are celebrating National Poetry Month by hearing your poetic tweets. You've already started sending us poems that are 140 characters or less. Today, we hear from former Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue. He joined us earlier in the program to talk about the president's proposal to change Social Security. But in addition to his government service - you might know this - Mr. Astrue is a published poet. And here he is.
Brian Kimberling's debut novel, Snapper, is a lovely, loose-limbed collection of stories about an aimless ornithologist named Nate, who as the book opens is possessed of a glitter-covered pickup truck and a massive (somewhat requited) crush on redheaded dream girl Lola. Nate and his friends wander toward marriage and maturity over the course of 13 linked stories — encountering angry snapping turtles, bald eagles and mystic mechanics along the way.