by Tom LeClair

Narrator – Bragi Olafsson

I submit that playing along once in a while with games like Olafsson’s, games about the game of fiction, can be a useful reminder of how fiction works on us.

The Mars Room – Rachel Kushner

It appears that Kushner wants readers to believe — and feel — that the book is transparent, almost literally true.

The Overstory – Richard Powers

What if a hundred thousand humans dressed as trees and migrated to Washington? How about a “War on Christmas (Trees)”? Fleet-footed activists come out at night and spray the trees for sale on city streets with orange paint, recalling Agent Orange and disrupting wasteful tree farms.

Phone – Will Self

Some reviewers in Great Britain have criticized Self’s trilogy for being too diffuse, too difficult. I found PHONE not diffuse enough.

Final Words

On reading and writing books in two centuries.

Making Literature Now – Amy Hungerford

Hungerford complains about the power of the commercial market to make reputations, but doesn’t “interrogate,” as professors say, her own institutional power.

Orthokostá – Thanassis Valtinos

If we lack for now the Great Syrian Novel, we may have to make do with Orthokostá and our ability to extrapolate from the Mediterranean country that gave us the word “chaos” to a more easterly Mediterranean country that now manifests it.

Flint and the Museum of Lead

Lead leaches. From mines to minds, from metal to metaphor.

City on Fire – Garth Risk Hallberg

Hallberg has at least attempted the Great New York Novel, but Hallberg has placed too much trust in the throw-weight of his subject and his pages, so the “great” is less qualitative than quantitative.

How to Exploit a Dead Writer

The reality of David Foster Wallace’s life is minimized, if not quite evaded, by what the screenwriter and director omit or massage to keep The End of the Tour on a predictable narrative arc and a comfortable, mostly comic plane.