News & Politics

Reading Rainbow


Bullfighting, the traps of nostalgia, sex addicts, the sins of Henry Kissinger — this spring’s book offerings don’t fit into any neat categories, but here are some forthcoming titles that caught our eye. Readings, if they’ve been scheduled by our deadline, are listed.


The Future of Nostalgia
(Basic Books)

Boym’s witty and erudite take on nostalgia as modern malaise explores its influence on pop culture, religious revival, and post-communist collective memory.

A House and Its Head
(New York Review Books)

Long out-of-print, this acidic, dialogue- driven novel dissects Victorian familial power and romantic ties with an appetite for misfortune.

White-Collar Sweatshop: The Deterioration of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America

Fraser argues that today’s corporate office is the equivalent of yesterday’s sweatshop — long hours, few benefits, and incremental raises.

On Bullfighting

Bull breeders, superstitious matadors, toreros in training — novelist Kennedy makes a jab at nonfiction, giving an outsider’s view of the gory sport with a keen eye for danger and the death impulse.

This Shape We’re In

March 1, Housing Works Used Book Café, 126 Crosby Street, 334-3324 (Lethem will read with Dave Eggers.)

A Balso Snell-ish romp through the interiors of a body-shaped world (legs, liver, head), this novella follows a wisecracking dipsomaniac on a journey in search of his son, who might or might not be hanging out in the Third Eye.


Pages for You
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Flannery, a 17-year-old freshman, falls for chain-smoking lit-crit grad student Anne in this heady Ivy League romance, and winds up with a credit from the school of hard knocks.

We’re So Famous

April 11, Barnes & Noble, 4 Astor Place, 420-1322; April 15, KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, 505-3360

The droll account of a girl group whose slouch toward pop stardom (early song: “I’d Kill You If I Thought I Could Get Away With It”) gets revved up when two of the band members are briefly suspected of murdering a politician’s son.

Looking for History: Dispatches From Latin America

April 25, the Carnegie Council, 170 East 64th Street, 838-4120

American ignorance of its Latin American neighbors’ politics could be increasingly dangerous for those north of the border: These thoughtful essays about Cuba’s purgatory under Castro and Colombia’s divided power between guerrillas and paramilitaries explain why.

The Trial of Henry Kissinger

April, date and venue TBA

An eloquent and devastating indictment of Henry Kissinger’s involvement in the war in Indochina, genocide in East Timor, and many other acts of indiscriminate murder.

Necessary Distance: Essays and Criticism
(Coffee House Press)

The important poet and critic’s provocative and eccentric collection of essays takes on the craft of writing, contemporary African American authors, and the publishing life.

Dark Back of Time
(New Directions)

Marías, one of the most talented contemporary Spanish writers, plays elegantly with the power of art and the mystery of memory in this ironic tale of a professor whose ”false novel” — filled with a legendary kingdom, haunted literary figures, and a Cuban curse — causes upset among colleagues and neighbors who believe they appear in its pages.


The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor’s Disappearance
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

May 6, KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, 505-3360

Rumored affairs and theological arcana provide the backdrop for a young black pastor’s disappearance in this deeply intelligent novel about New England suburbia, tradition, and social mores.

The Rackets
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

June 7, the American Irish Historical Society, 991 Fifth Avenue, 288-2263

A vivid descent into the fictional underworld of a union-rigged election replete with mobsters, Gulf War vets, and Russian assassins.


June, date TBA, Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th Street, 253-0810

The protagonist’s moneymaking method is as far-fetched as Fight Club‘s soap scheme, but the devious Palahniuk still delivers plenty of rapid-fire prose and outrageous humor in this novel about a med-school dropout who cruises sex-addict meetings and makes decisions by asking, “What would Jesus NOT do?”

As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender, and Art
(University of Georgia Press)

Starting with Genesis and the desire to “make a future in the image of an ideal past,” Solnit’s conversationally theoretical collection of essays — focusing primarily on environmentalism and art criticism — is a well-guided tour through usually unrelated topics like suburbia, bomb-testing sites, landscape photography, and contemporary art.

Arthur Tress: Fantastic Voyage Photographs 1956-2000
Text by Richard Lorenz and John Wood
(Bullfinch Press)

Flea market hero and ingenious surrealist photographer Arthur Tress builds worlds within worlds: in a fish tank, a cardboard opera stage, the curve of a man’s hips. Elegiac, humorous, and erotic, this collection is long awaited.

(W.W. Norton)

June 4, Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th Street, 253-0810

With rhythmic Scottish slang, working-class youth, and free-form psychological insight still intact, the trainspotter traces the relationships of four friends — what holds them together or drives them apart — from 1970 to the near future.

John Henry Days

June, date TBA, Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th Street, 253-0810

This novel deftly shifts between the stories of John Henry, a 19th-century black railroad worker who died from exhaustion after competing with a steam drill, and J. Sutter, a journalist who realizes his life is similarly drained by modern technology while covering a Henry celebration in 1996.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 27, 2001

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