Author Archives: Robert Birnbaum

Later, at the Bar, by Rebecca Barry

Rebecca Barry, an Ohio State University MFA who has published both fiction and nonfiction in many of the right places, debuts with a “novel in stories.”

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I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, by Crystal Zevon

Most music biographies are useful to fans and devotees but frequently are barely more than hagiographic efforts.

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Richard Ford on The Lay of the Land

richard ford

“You can’t really make the world up–make something more zany than the world is. So, I mean I can’t make anything up that isn’t already superseded by something that already is.”

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Donald Hall

poet donald hall

Even before he was named Poet Laureate of the United States in June 2006, Donald Hall was a familiar figure in contemporary poetry.

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Michael Lewis on The Blind Side

Michael Lewis

The Blind Side is an incredibly moving story about the remarkable reversal of fortune Michael Oher, a 6’5″, 350-pound, feral sixteen-year-old black boy from inner-city Memphis, encounters as he is adopted by a wealthy white Evangelical family.

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Elizabeth Benedict

Elizabeth Benedict

“Reviews can sell a book, but it doesn’t always work that they sell books. And that’s very different. We all used to look at the NYTBR and decide what the book was that we had to read. And now it’s really a little bit unclear how we decide what book we are going to read.”

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John Gimlette

John Gimlette

There is a very big difference between American and British travel journalism, and that’s this whole business of the assisted or freebie trip. In Britain we are unashamed about any travel company paying for you to go and then writing about it.

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August 16, 2006: “The worst violators of nature…”

The worst violators of nature and human rights never go to jail. They hold the keys. In the world as it is, the looking-glass world, the countries that guard the peace also make and sell the most weapons. The most prestigious banks launder the most drug money and harbor the most stolen cash. The most […]

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Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano

“The richest people are suffering fear in such a proportion they cannot imagine life without this panic of being kidnapped and feeling that people hate them or I don’t know—it must be terrible.”

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June 27, 2006: “Once again the New York Times…”

Once again the New York Times seems to have roiled the literary pond, provoking, depending on your disposition, screeches of indignation or snarls of ridicule. The occasion for the rising noise level being the lame-assed (I guess I am tipping my hand here) attempt to name the best American novel of the past 25 years. […]

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Susan Orlean on Rin Tin Tin

Susan Orlean

“Working on a book requires feeling a great deal of connection to the subject somehow.”

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George Saunders

George Saunders

“It’s amazing how the pleasures of the language and the pleasures of the physical world are one and the same thing.”

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Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez

“There is shit everywhere. The language itself gets muddled and used dishonestly. For me the way to clean the windshield is through writing, which goes hand in hand with reading.”

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William Wright

William Wright

“Yeah, it was a tempest — a hidden tempest. But it ruined a lot of lives and precipitated three suicides.”

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Thomas Beller

Thomas Beller

“The whole culture of coaching and prepping and that sort of intense PR stuff, how to talk on TV and the radio, is disgusting as it applies to a real person, to writers.”

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