Articles by Emily St. John Mandel

June 21, 2012

Nanny Noir: Wolf Haas’ Brenner and God 2

Simon Brenner is an ex-detective, a man in middle age who has decided after trying out more than fifty professions that he was born to be a chauffeur. Although actually, “chauffeur” doesn’t seem exactly the right word for his current employment: he’s almost, when you come right down to it, a sort of Autobahn-based nanny.

May 10, 2012

Staff Pick: H.H. Munro’s The Best of Saki 10

H.H. Munro wrote a great many light and often very funny send-ups of the stifling conventions and manners of the Edwardian age. But on the other hand, three of the first eight stories in the book involve corpses, with two of these being small children eaten by wild animals.

April 27, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Dallas Hudgens’ Wake Up, We’re Here 9

Hudgens doesn’t shy away from the brutality of life on earth — the illness, the decreptitude, the humiliations and the teen suicides — but the grittiness is never gratuitous, and his stories are infused with compassion and humanity.

March 28, 2012

The ___’s Daughter 90

To be clear, I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with calling one’s book The ___’s Daughter. I think those titles have a marvelous rhythm to them. And yet one can’t help but wonder why there seem to be so many of them.

March 20, 2012

Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker 1

Harkaway manages to write surrealist adventure novels that feel both urgent and relevant. His novels are fun to read without seeming particularly frivolous, and beneath all the derring-do and shenanigans, there’s a low thrum of anxiety: everything and everyone you love could disappear at any moment. There is nothing that you cannot lose.

February 22, 2012

Arrested Development: Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan 17

I’ve been thinking lately about adulthood. When it begins, what expectations we might reasonably have of those just entering through its gates, and how we represent it in our fiction.

January 19, 2012

Dark Pensées: Fraser Nixon’s The Man Who Killed 2

Fraser Nixon’s debut novel is a fast, sharp piece of work. Novels with plots and titles like this one are easily filed under crime fiction, but this is one of countless instances where artificial divisions of genre do readers a disservice.

December 17, 2011

Year in Reading: Emily St. John Mandel 2

There’s a body in the first chapter, but the real story here isn’t the crime; it’s the extent to which we’re willing to lie to ourselves, to ignore the obvious, in pursuit of happiness or companionship or love.

November 30, 2011

Naples and The Gallery 2

John Horne Burns’ The Gallery was his first book, a chronicle of the chaos and beauty and horror of occupied Naples in 1943 and 1944. It’s an interesting hybrid: a novel in which stories alternate with an elegant travelogue, and the travelogue appears to be the author’s memoir: “I remember that at Casablanca it dawned on me that maybe I’d come overseas to die.”

November 23, 2011

Staff Pick: Steve Erickson’s Zeroville 5

Zeroville is a work of surpassing strangeness and beauty. Vikar is possesed by movies, and he’s come to the promised land. He has a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on his shaved head, a red tear drop inked below an eye.