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NONFICTION True Believer: Stalin's Last American Spy By Kati Marton Simon & Schuster 292 pages, $27 What turned an American Quaker from a religious pacifist to a traitor who willingly sacrificed his own and his family's freedom, a promising career and his country, all for the sake of the Soviet Union's imaginary utopia? How did he discard his principl…

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The Whistler By John Grisham Doubleday 374 pages, $28.95 Gather ‘round the campfire, boys and girls. John Grisham has another story to tell. In “The Whistler,” Grisham wades into what could be termed “gray-collar” crime – a blend of mostly white-collar transgressions, with a few old-fashioned violent crimes tossed into the mix. So we have characters involved…

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MEMOIR Scrappy Little Nobody By Anna Kendrick Touchstone 304 pages, $26.99 What is the right age for a celebrity to even think about writing a memoir?  That is the question that initially ran through my mind when I heard Anna Kendrick had written one.  How can anyone who has spent just 31 years on this planet possibly amass enough experiences, first-hand kno…

FICTION The Boat Rocker By Ha Jin Pantheon Books 240 pages   $25.95 Readers may remember the excellent novel by Ha Jin reviewed in this space two years ago, “A Map of Betrayal.”  The author was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for an earlier novel, “Waiting.” “Betrayal” was brilliant fiction, a story of shifting personal loyalties across broad swathes of territo…

FICTION The Girl from Venice By Martin Cruz Smith Simon & Schuster 352 pages, $27 Girl professes to be a love story (of sorts,) a mystery (of sorts) and a look into Italian history (of sorts.) It takes place as World War II comes to end. Cenzo, 26, a simple fisherman, finds the body of an eighteen-year-old girl in his net, only she’s not dead. She’s a…

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The Hassett Reading at Canisius College has over the years attracted the highest level of Irish and Irish-American writers to discuss their craft in Buffalo. This year, the series adds prolific Dublin-born author Emma Donoghue to a list that already includes Seamus Heaney, Colm Toibin, Alice McDermott, Sebastian Barry, Paul Muldoon, Eavon Boland, Eamon Grennan and William…

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Let’s face it, these days there aren’t very many brick-and-mortar bookstores - let alone ones that focus on children. Our buying habits have changed over the years, leaving independent bookshops with a not-so-happy ending. Some shops have managed to make it, though. One of our favorites is Monkey See, Monkey Do in Clarence. The adorable book store has quite a story to tel…

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The world of literature is famous for the number of thorny, tantalizing and even indecipherable individualists one finds in its ranks. Even so, you’re not likely to find another writer quite like Geoff Dyer. Dyer will appear at 7 p.m. April 28 in Hallwalls, 341 Delaware Ave., to present his soon-to-be-published book “White Sands.” Dyer frequently writes novels but it’s h…

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When Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, 453 Porter Ave., hosts the 10th annual Buffalo Small Press Book Fair on April 9 and 10, it also will be the final one. The event consists of two days in which vendors from small-press publishers and independently owned art businesses hope to sell their latest merchandise. It was started in 2006 by Kevin Thurston and Chris Fritton w…

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Most years, the focus on Irish history and heritage fades soon after March 17. This year is different. Local re-enactments, a parade, panel discussions and educational, musical and cultural events will mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin and the 150th anniversary of the Fenian Invasion of Canada, which was launched from Black Rock. Along with the us…

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A series of spectacles including poetry readings, lectures and open discussion will be the focus of International Women’s Month continuing through March at El Buen Amigo in a partnership between the Latin American Cultural Association and the Buffalo State Writer’s Network. “What we are doing is celebrating women’s accomplishments [all over the world],” said Rachel Johnso…

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The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library's annual list of the year's most popular books is out. The results: Adult fiction "The Girl on the Train," by Paula Hawkins "Gray Mountain," by John Grisham "Private Vegas," by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro Adult non-fiction "Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania," by Erik Larson "Wall of Snow: The Historic WNY Sno…

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I recently ran into an acquaintance who also reviews books and he asked, “Have you heard of this book ‘Bats of the Republic?’ ” Yeah, I said, I have a copy. “I’m supposed to review it,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t know what to say about it.” Now that I’ve read it, I’m agreeing. So I’ll spill it and let the reader decide.The first and most arresting thing about it i…

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Former Buffalo Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk will sign copies of his new book and lead a discussion about his experiences with mental illness on Nov. 6 at Barnes & Noble, 4401 Transit Road in Clarence. The discussion will take place at 5 p.m. and the book signing follows from 6 to 8 p.m. The event, which also will feature six additional Western New York authors, is a …

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In Buffalo, poetry inhabits even our most desolate and abandoned spaces. It echoes from the ceilings of our industrial ruins. It flows like the meandering Buffalo River through the inner harbors of our ghost palaces, resonating out of phase through tens of thousands of tons of concrete, barely audible above the wind soughs, before blending into the vernacular of our city b…