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Ed TaylorNEWS BOOK REVIEWER


FICTION Night of the Animals By Bill Broun Ecco 560 pages, $26.99. Beautiful and strange and flawed but in noble ways, “Night of the Animals” is a sport of nature, sort of, a novel about a dystopic future world in which most of the Earth’s animal species are gone, except for the ark-sanctuary of the London Zoo, where a 90-year old fitfully schizophrenic addi…

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And 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 – to the shelf of books explicitly or implicitly using the strategies of music to create literature, add British writer Sebastian Faulks’ 10th novel “A Possible Life.” Interviewed about the book, Faulks said, “I’d like for readers to think of the book rather as they might [be] going to hear a symphony, and when you come back out of having heard Moza…

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Not liking “San Miguel” would be like kicking kittens. T.C. Boyle is one of contemporary American literature’s big guns, and “San Miguel” is a heartfelt, meticulous novel imagining the lives of three brave women on one of the least-known and most picturesque parts of the continental United States, during one of American history’s liveliest periods, from the 1880s to the en…

By Ed Taylor

Sun, Sep 30, 2012

So if you put a half cup of Time magazine, a few shakes of dried Tom Wolfe, some grated rind of Jonathan Ames, a pinch of chopped New Yorker, and a few drops of Edith Wharton extract in a blender, you get not an unholy mess (you have to be careful using the Wolfe) but "Triburbia."And what exactly is that? A meticulous fictional documenting of a real neighborhood in New Yor…

By Ed Taylor

Sun, Sep 9, 2012

Too late for beach season, but available for the beach season of the mind, arrives "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore," the center of a charming fictive contemporary world that's a combination of the real, the virtual, and the imagined that manages to make a Google search a swashbuckling adventure with profound consequences.Robin Sloan's first novel does a variety of other …

By Ed Taylor

Sun, Aug 12, 2012

David Foster Wallace's shadow, along with that of other contemporary satiric fabulists such as Mark Leyner, looms large over "Hot Pink," a story collection by the author of the much-talked-about 2010 novel "The Instructions," a 1,030-page-long "document" combining a politico-religious tract with the chronicle of an apocalyptic four days in the life of a Jewish junior high …

By Ed Taylor

Sun, Jun 10, 2012

To learn the value of peace, talk to a combat soldier.?One of the themes of this Iraq War novel, set in the mid-2000s, is encoded in the very real list of senior Bush administration Iraq War architects who deliberately avoided active military combat service when they were eligible, including the commander in chief, noted by 19-year-old Army private Billy Lynn and the seven…

By Ed Taylor

Sun, May 20, 2012

Schmidtie is a dinosaur. Or, more accurately, he is something rare but not extinct, the natural habitat of which has dramatically shrunk: Schmidtie would be something stolid and careful and quiet; maybe a buffalo, wearing white bucks (see below).Schmidtie -- officially, Albert Schmidt, but called Schmidtie by anyone who is or wants to be his friend -- is a 78-year-…

By Ed Taylor

Sun, Mar 18, 2012

"Pocket Kings" is the kind of reading fun that offers nutritional value and not just empty calories. Ted Heller's third novel is a satirical, charming literary ride about literary rides and the sausage-making machinery that results in best-sellerdom and movie deals. It's also about poker, social media, addiction and hope.Poker drives this story, but not the face-to…

By Ed Taylor

Sat, Jan 14, 2012

"American Boy" is a small book, about the size of a couple of stacked Kindles, beautifully made, printed on acid-free paper. Its size need not in itself be a symbol of anything necessarily -- good things do come in small packages. However, in this case, there is a correlation. This is a small book: admirable in its way, but as a novel a too-modest product, sad to…