Alan Cheuse http://ktep.org en Book Review: 'Angels Make Their Hope Here' http://ktep.org/post/book-review-angels-make-their-hope-here Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDRED. I'm Audie Cornish.<p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>And I'm Robert Siegel. Now to 19th-century New Jersey and a new novel. It set among unusually tolerant people. A racially mixed community that offers refuge to independent souls. Alan Cheuse has this review of the novel "Angels Make Their Hope Here" by Breena Clarke.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Clarke calls her Jersey Shangri-La, Russell’s Knob. Where a black community elder named Duncan Smoot heads a couple of families. Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:18:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 45211 at http://ktep.org Book Review: 'Shooting Star' http://ktep.org/post/book-review-shooting-star Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>A 30-year-old novel has just been translated to English but keeps its Spanish name, "Muerte En Una Estrella." The author is Sergio Elizondo, and the translators are Rosaura Sanchez and Beatrice Pita. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it crackles.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Elizondo finds a story written decades ago, but still fresh, in incidents from the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and '70s. Tue, 08 Jul 2014 20:13:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 44255 at http://ktep.org Book Review: 'The Expedition To The Boabab Tree' http://ktep.org/post/book-review-expedition-boabab-tree Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>The journey of a girl sold into slavery is the topic of a compelling piece of fiction out of South Africa. It's called "The Expedition To The Boabab Tree." The author is poet Wilma Stockenstrom. She originally published it back in 1981, and now it has been translated from the Africaans by Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee and published in the United States. Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:17:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 43747 at http://ktep.org 'Warburg' Struggles For Love And Justice In Wartime Rome http://ktep.org/post/book-review-warburg-rome James Carroll, who served as a Catholic priest before his literary ambitions led him to go secular, has gathered together his knowledge of church history and his mature powers as a novelist to create <em>Warburg in Rome</em>, his most splendid work of fiction to date.<p>Though the novel never really settles squarely as either historical fiction or historical thriller, it offers the best of both worlds. Fri, 27 Jun 2014 20:30:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 43588 at http://ktep.org 'Warburg' Struggles For Love And Justice In Wartime Rome Book Review: 'No Country' http://ktep.org/post/book-review-no-country Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Kalyan Ray has been busy. The Bangladesh-born writer is also a translator and actor. That may be why 10 years have passed since his first novel was released. And reviewer Alan Cheuse is happy his second is now out.<p>ALAN CHEUSE: "No Country" is a rousing adventure made up out of the blood and guts and dreams of people on three continents and nearly 150 years of troubled history. Tue, 24 Jun 2014 20:15:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 43338 at http://ktep.org Summer Reading: Three Books To Take You To New Frontiers http://ktep.org/post/summer-reading-three-books-take-you-new-frontiers Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.<p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>And I'm Audie Cornish. You don't need a ticket to travel this summer. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, has packed a small bag of books that he says will send you to Alaska, Siberia and Tasmania. Here's Alan on three debut works.<p>ALAN CHEUSE: Rachel Weaver's novel "Point of Direction" takes us to contemporary Alaska and she fumbles around a little before figuring out how best to tell her story. But once she gets it moving, it pulls you in. Wed, 11 Jun 2014 20:18:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 42479 at http://ktep.org 'Night Heron' And 'The Director' Provide A Double Shot Of Intrigue http://ktep.org/post/night-heron-and-director-provide-double-shot-intrigue I suppose it's preaching to the converted to announce that David Ignatius has done it again. But here he is, having written yet another deeply engaging spy thriller, rooted at that point where the intricacies of the intelligence community and the everyday world of civilians converge. Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:03:03 +0000 Alan Cheuse 42007 at http://ktep.org 'Night Heron' And 'The Director' Provide A Double Shot Of Intrigue Book Review: 'The Director' and 'Night Heron' http://ktep.org/post/book-review-director-and-night-heron Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.<p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>And I'm Robert Siegel. Now, two new spy novels, both written by journalists - one by an old hand of the genre, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius - the other by a first-time novelist, Adam Brookes at the BBC. Alan Cheuse has our reviews.<p>ALAN CHEUSE: Ignatius's novel "The Director" takes us into the heart of the CIA as communications mogul Graham Weber assumes his post as the newly appointed head of the intelligence agency. Tue, 03 Jun 2014 20:08:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 41969 at http://ktep.org McMurtry Takes Aim At A Legend In 'Last Kind Words Saloon' http://ktep.org/post/mcmurtry-takes-aim-legend-last-kind-words-saloon In a prefatory note to <em>The Last Kind Words Saloon</em>, his first novel in five years, Western writer supreme Larry McMurtry states that he wants to create a "ballad in prose." And he borrows a line from great moviemaker John Ford: "When legend becomes fact, print the legend."<p>Set in the autumn of the 19th century, mainly in Texas, Colorado, and Arizona, McMurtry's slender book contains a multitude of familiar and unfamiliar Western characters, including some who do belong to legend as well as history: part-time lawman Wyatt Earp and gun-toting dentist Doc Holliday, back together again. Tue, 27 May 2014 21:05:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 41511 at http://ktep.org Everyday Life Is a Rich Mine Of Absurdity In 'American Innovations' http://ktep.org/post/book-review-american-innovations Richard Ford talks about understanding voice in fiction as "the music of the story's intelligence." It's been a long while since I've read short fiction by a new writer who makes that idea seem so definitive. But here is <em>American Innovations</em>, the first collection by Rivka Galchen. She lives in New York City, attended medical school, writes for the New Yorker, and has already published one novel. Wed, 14 May 2014 20:00:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 40639 at http://ktep.org Everyday Life Is a Rich Mine Of Absurdity In 'American Innovations' A Fractured Tale Of Time, War And A Really Big Diamond http://ktep.org/post/fractured-tale-time-war-and-really-big-diamond No book I've read all year underscores the distinctions between the long form and the short story more than the award-winning story writer Anthony Doerr's new novel <em>All the Light We Cannot See</em>.<p>The book takes place in Europe — in three locations, mainly — Hitler's Germany, Paris, and the walled seaside town of Saint-Malo in Brittany, from the mid-1930s to the roaring and murderous years of World War II. Sat, 10 May 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 40369 at http://ktep.org A Fractured Tale Of Time, War And A Really Big Diamond Book Review: 'In Praise Of Hatred' http://ktep.org/post/book-review-praise-hatred Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>In Syria, the 1980s were marked by a bloody civil war between the Sunni majority and the minority Alawite Muslim government. That's now the setting for a novel titled "In Praise of Hatred." It's by Syrian writer Khaled Khalifa. It's now available in the United States and a translation by Larry Price. And Alan Cheuse has our review.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: The unnamed narrator opens her episodic story as she's studying a family photograph. For a number of chapters after this she embellishes the faith and the foibles of the family. Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:16:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 39173 at http://ktep.org In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror http://ktep.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 38232 at http://ktep.org In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror 'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp http://ktep.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 37779 at http://ktep.org 'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time' http://ktep.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 37327 at http://ktep.org A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time' Book Review: 'The Divorce Papers' http://ktep.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 37091 at http://ktep.org Book Review: 'Falling Out Of Time' http://ktep.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 36919 at http://ktep.org All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers' http://ktep.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 36882 at http://ktep.org All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers' American Jazzmen Swing Overseas In 'Shanghai' http://ktep.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 36559 at http://ktep.org American Jazzmen Swing Overseas In 'Shanghai' Review: 'E.E. Cummings: A Life' http://ktep.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 20:22:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 36356 at http://ktep.org Book Review: 'Night in Shanghai' http://ktep.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 21:40:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 35661 at http://ktep.org Lorrie Moore's New 'Bark' Is Half Of A Good Book http://ktep.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 35536 at http://ktep.org Lorrie Moore's New 'Bark' Is Half Of A Good Book Book Review: 'Bark' http://ktep.org/post/book-review-bark Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>Writer Lorrie Moore is known for her clever word play and incisive wit. Now, she's out with a new collection of short stories, her first in 16 years. It's called "Bark." Alan Cheuse has our review.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Maybe I was so dazzled by the brilliance and power of the two longest stories in this collection that I couldn't read the other pieces, which I found a little off-kilter or too subtly played, without feeling a certain amount of loss. Tue, 25 Feb 2014 21:35:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 35500 at http://ktep.org Book Review: 'Trieste,' by Dasa Drndic http://ktep.org/post/book-review-trieste-dasa-drndic Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>It's been nearly 70 years since the end of World War II, but Croatian writer Dasa Drndic makes the war and its countless horrors feel fresh and urgent in her latest novel "Trieste." Ellen Elias-Bursac translated the book into English.<p>Alan Cheuse with our review.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: I guess we can call this an experimental novel. What else can you say about a book of which nearly 45 pages are nothing but a list of names, nearly 9,000 names? Thu, 06 Feb 2014 22:55:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 34295 at http://ktep.org Historical Trauma Makes For Thrilling Fiction In 'Officer And A Spy' http://ktep.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 17:02:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 33806 at http://ktep.org Historical Trauma Makes For Thrilling Fiction In 'Officer And A Spy' Book Review: 'The Guts,' By Roddy Doyle http://ktep.org/post/book-review-guts-roddy-doyle Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>"The Commitments" was the first novel from Irish writer Roddy Doyle. The story introduced us to a young Dubliner named Jimmy Rabbitte, the founder of a neighborhood soul band. Subsequent books stayed with the Rabbitte family, detailing life's trials as they've aged. Well, now a new novel and we have the story of a middle aged Jimmy Rabbitte recovering from cancer surgery.<p>Alan Cheuse has our review.<p>ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: "The Guts" brings Jimmy Rabbitte's story up to date. Mon, 27 Jan 2014 22:01:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 33601 at http://ktep.org Doyle's New 'Guts' Has Plenty Of Soul http://ktep.org/post/doyles-new-guts-has-plenty-soul Restless and determined young Dubliner Jimmy Rabbitte put together a neighborhood soul band in 1987. Jimmy rounded up his pal Outspan and Declan and some other folks, including soul veteran Joey The Lips on trumpet, pretty Imelda and Natalie — the Commitment-ettes — as backup, and the rest was history. Sun, 26 Jan 2014 14:43:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 33521 at http://ktep.org Doyle's New 'Guts' Has Plenty Of Soul All The Varieties Of Love And Madness, On Display In 'Carthage' http://ktep.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 12:02:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 33320 at http://ktep.org All The Varieties Of Love And Madness, On Display In 'Carthage' Book Review: 'Starting Over,' By Elizabeth Spencer http://ktep.org/post/book-review-starting-over-elizabeth-spencer Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>The Mississippi-born novelist and storywriter Elizabeth Spencer turned 92 last summer. Best known for her novella turned musical drama "The Light in the Piazza," Spencer has just published her 15th work of fiction. Mon, 20 Jan 2014 22:25:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 33157 at http://ktep.org Never Again: 'Trieste' Is A Harrowing Mix Of Memory And Memorial http://ktep.org/post/never-again-trieste-harrowing-mix-memory-and-memorial From Croatia comes a novel titled <em>Trieste</em>, by Dasa Drndic, originally published in Croatian in 2007 and now translated into English by Ellen Elias-Bursac. We might call the novel experimental because of some of the techniques the writer employs. But the story — a mother in search of a child, torn from her in the midst of monstrous warfare — feels ancient.<p>The experimental element? <em>Trieste</em> is a book 368 pages long, 45 of which are nothing but a list of names – around<em> 9,000 </em>names. Thu, 16 Jan 2014 12:02:00 +0000 Alan Cheuse 32884 at http://ktep.org Never Again: 'Trieste' Is A Harrowing Mix Of Memory And Memorial