Even More Staff Reading

Robert Birnbaum: I'm reading the forthcoming Jim Harrison, Returning to Earth, new Ward Just - Forgetfullness, newest Janet Fitch - Paint it Black, The Blind Side - Michael Lewis, The Return of The Player - Michael Tolkin, Half go a Yellow Moon by Chimmananda Ngozi Adichie, and thinking about whether I want to read Cormac McCarthy's new grim post-apocalyptic novel, The Road.

Also Edwidge Danticat's piece on torture at the Washington Post, James Hynes on the Wire at Salon, Matt Taibi on 9/11 in Rolling Stone, Lousi Menand on Charles Frazier in the New Yorker (these are all accessible on line and I urge you to have a look at them).

Eric Lagergren: To follow RB (humbly): I just finished Set This House In Order (A Romance of Souls) by Matt Ruff; close to finishing Saturday by Ian McEwan; reading The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison (thanks to RB and Elizabeth Benedict discussing books in his interview); the Remnick article on Clinton in the New Yorker (a bit about it in huffingtonpost; umm... still wading through The Majors by John Feinstein when the golf jones hits.

Will probably move on soon to reading Missing Mom by JC Oates.

Was just out in Portland on my honeymoon and got stuck in Powell's for the day. I didn't walk away with too many books, however. Self-control wasn't really the issue--it was lack of suitcase space, no desire to ship extra stuff home, and also the advent of this amazing new tool called the Internet that allows me to order those same books online! Imagine.

Drew McNaughton: I read Saturday by McEwan recently too, and from a purely professional review stance; it sucked. But you know, people liked it, whatever. I did like The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, by Amy whats-her-name. I am reading old National Geographics right now. They're old.

Summer Block: I just finished Philip Roth's Everyman, and now I'm on The Anatomy of Melancholy, by Robert Burton, Lawrence Wechsler's Everything That Rises, and a year of Martha Stewart Weddings back issues.

Jesslyn Roebuck: I'm reading sex, drugs and cocoa puffs by Chuck Klosterman. I recently read Killing Yourself to Live and enjoyed it. After reading these books, I feel humbled with regards to my pop culture knowledge basically meaning that I know nothing about pop culture. I also recently read Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold. It was definitely one of the best books I've read in a while.

Andrew Whitacre: In Search of the Craic, by Colin Irwin, has been my bus book for a couple of months now and consistently causes me to miss my stop, which, you know, thank god I only take the bus on days it rains or else I'd be in big trouble at work. Irwin's a British music writer obsessed with Irish music--the Dubliners, Christy Moore, Planxty, the Pogues--and the book covers his extended romp from county to county, town to town, bar to bar, in western Ireland. Ostensibly a search for the famed fiddler Tommy Peoples, In Search of the Craic is Irwin's excuse to rework over and over again a formula of arrive/get trashed/listen to great music/provide background on the music/pass out, to great effect. His writing style is breathless, often works itself out in great big circles, and reflects his love of Irish music well.

Writers on Writers
, by the Virginia Quarterly Review, just arrived in my mailbox as a supplement to the regular VQR, which asked authors to write short stories featuring, by name, other authors. I started the collection yesterday: Joyce Carol Oates has the first story, and her author of choice was Emily Dickinson. Or, actually, a robot replicant of Emily Dickinson, which was purchased by a lonely couple. Early on you kinda saw where the story was headed, but it was still terribly entertaining, what with the wife slipping fragments of her own mediocre poetry into the robot's apron in the hopes that Emily Dickinson would do something with it. Other writers on writers: Jonathan Lethem on Philip K. Dick, Brock Clark on Mario Puzo, and (DJ) Steve Almond on James Frey.

Christian Bauman: Screamer of the week is The Undead and Philosophy: Chicken Soup for the Soulless, a collection edited by Richard Greene and K. Silem Mohammad. This altogether tasty book includes the essay "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will shop the earth: Romero and Aristotle on Zombies, Happiness, and Consumption" by my friend Matthew Walker. Matt was once my editor at Simon & Schuster/Touchstone; he's since dropped out to get his PhD in philosophy from Yale. More important, he's from Pittsburgh, not far from the mall where the original Dawn of the Dead was filmed. Matt is a supremely cool person for many, many reasons, but these two reasons alone (buying my first novel and loving zombies) make him el supremo in my book. He's also co-author of the very funny book Tipsy in Madras.

I'm also re-reading Sleazoid Express this week, a book Matt edited whilst ensconced at S&S. It's about the old grind house theaters on 42nd Street, and the crazy freaks who made the movies. Fantastic book.

Mara Naselli: I just read a great little piece in the second issue of A Public Space, the new magazine edited by Brigid Hughes. "Please Do Not Yell at the Sea Cucumber" by Amy Leach is a wonderful mix of science and art. Strangely enough, themes of science and art have appeared on my desk three times this month. Using science to rethink artistic renderings of things like memory, transformation, and who knows what else seems to be creating little tremors in the staid halls of academic publishing. I also started rereading Annie Dillard's Holy the Firm, which reads as though I never read it before--it does philosophy in a way philosophy can't. And then a bit back there was Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas.

Matt Borondy: Read an article about the Buddhist practice of Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo in the latest Tricycle. Finished up The Littlest Hitler by Ryan Boudinot, another wonderfully mind-blowing story collection (been really lucky with those this year). A bit entranced by Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip: The 1935 Travelogue of Two Soviet Writers, from Princeton Architectural Press (pretty much my new favorite publisher).

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