Lowboy: A Novel

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Ask a Book Question #76 (Good Readers, Good Readings)

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Traci writes in with this question: I'm working to establish a really great reading series in Indianapolis, and I'm wondering whether you have suggestions for readers who really own a stage. I'm looking for someone lively and personable (and, of course, someone who writes great prose). Have you seen anyone who really knocked your socks off? Emily St. John Mandel: Reading one's work aloud is a difficult art. Doing it well requires a certain stage presence, and a small degree of talent as a live entertainer: in other words, more or less the exact opposite of the skills you needed to actually sit down and write your book in the first place. Given that the skillsets involved in writing and reading aloud are so different, I’ve found that it’s a rare writer who can give a memorable reading. (By “memorable,” I mean “memorable in a good way.” I’ve been to some memorably bad ones.) More often than not we speak too quickly, or in a monotone, or way too dramatically when the material doesn’t call for it (“and then… she poured the coffee… into a cup.”) I go to a lot of readings. The ones I like best are assured, understated affairs, where the reading style doesn’t get in the way of the prose, and I think the best reader I’ve come across in this vein so far is John Wray. I went to a reading of Lowboy in a bookstore in Brooklyn a few months back; Wray’s full-back Sharpie tattoo of Michiko Kakutani (“MICHIKO 4-EVAH”) was certainly striking, but I was more taken by his reading style. He reads very calmly and quietly, fairly slowly, with a pause after every sentence. The effect is mesmerizing; the audience in the bookstore was perfectly still. Andrew Saikali: A great writer, a podium, bookmarked text on the stand, glass of water on the side. Microphone, lights, hushed audience. You'd think this would be the perfect recipe for a literary evening. Far too often it isn't. The best readings I've been to have all deviated, in some way, from this formula. Many authors are captivating on the page, but lack a magnetic personality. Without it, without that way to connect with the audience, the reading is doomed. That's not a slight on their work. But let's face it - a reading is performance. And some do it better than others. I saw Irvine Welsh a couple of years ago at the Harbourfront reading series here in Toronto. It was a packed house. Welsh has a big, loyal fan base and they all seemed to be there. It fueled him, and he gave back in kind. He read from his novel Crime and also did a Q&A. That's always a nice touch. An author's personality comes out when he goes off-script. Add a Scottish burr and a known and fascinating personal history - this was, after all, the man who wrote Trainspotting. His background chronicling young Scottish lives on the margin comes through his wit and his attitude, and that attitude seeps into a novel like Crime set in the United States, a world away from Scottish junkies. The legendary Ralph Steadman, illustrator and partner in crime with the late Hunter S. Thompson, was in town a few years ago with his book The Joke's Over, chronicling, in words and drawings, his friendship with the gonzo journalist. His presentation wasn't even a reading - it was a slideshow of his illustrations, with off-the cuff commentary and anecdotes. It was fascinating and hilarious - a slice of cultural history and outlaw tales. Top prize though, for me, goes to novelist, artist and designer Douglas Coupland. Having only read his novel Miss Wyoming, I saw him read back in 2005. jPod was the novel he read from, but I don't actually remember that part. I remember him talking to the audience, doing a Q&A like I'd never heard before, dripping with dry wit (yes, dry wit actually drips. I've seen it). Admittedly, Coupland was high on codeine at the time, but I've heard him interviewed since, and he's always extremely articulate and with just the right amount of sarcasm. Edan Lepucki: I'll admit, I prefer to read an author's book on my own than have it performed to me--that way, I can follow the story at my own pace, pick it up or put it down at my leisure, and let the prose suggest a voice to me, rather than have the author's own monotone, or murmur, or over-enunciation, flung at me. And yet, I attend readings all the time, as if I actually like them. The most memorable one I've attended, by Deborah Eisenberg in the spring of 2006 in Iowa City, had nothing to do with her. It wasn't that she wasn't a strong reader, she was, but that hail so raucous and terrifying stopped her a few minutes in. The more adventurous among us (not me) ran outside to witness an ominous and greenish cloud coming for our heretofore sturdy university town. A tornado! Before she'd begun reading, Eisenberg had announced that her story would take approximately 40 minutes to read aloud, start to finish. That struck me as too long, and so, when we were interrupted, I felt as if I'd willed the tornado into existence, to rescue me from all that sitting-still. However, after we waited in an interior hallway for over an hour, we were herded into a smaller lecture hall to finish the performance. Eisenberg chose a different story this time, and only read the opening pages. I am sure it was marvelous, but with the winds still howling outside, I was distracted. The only reading I've attended where I was truly riveted from start to finish was also in Iowa City when I was a graduate student. D.A. Powell read from his collection of poems Chronic with such a feisty and comic theatricality that for weeks afterward I found myself reenacting the event, as if I'd seen a dance performance and wanted to try out the steps for myself in my living room. I loved how playful Powell's poems were, and how this playfulness left you unprepared for their beauty, which made them all the more delicious. D.A. Powell's reading was followed, and matched in greatness, by Edward Carey's. Carey is a small English fellow with a flop of boyish blond hair, and his novel Observatory Mansions, is delightfully off-the-wall. He was a masterful reader--it felt like we were gathered around the campfire, or listening to a ye olden radio play, with Britain's preeminent actor flexing his talent just for the fun of it. That night felt like real theatre. Garth Risk Hallberg: As an undergraduate in Missouri, I learned as much from the surfeit of on-campus readings as I did from any class. One of the most memorable featured Ben Marcus performing parts of his novel-in-progress Notable American Women. I use the term "performing" advisedly; Marcus had concocted an elaborate conceptual framework in which he was not himself but (I think) a secret agent shadowing "the author Ben Marcus." Equally performative, in his own canny way, was David Foster Wallace, who delivered an hour-long reading from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men still talked about by those who attended. Wallace's prefatory remarks played up his ineptitutude at public speaking - "I seem to have misplaced my saliva," he said at one point - but what followed (B.I. #20; the one about the rape) was beyond ept. Indeed, in a twangy shambolic way I'm finding impossible to describe, it was riveting. Later, I got to hear the late Kenneth Koch - a hero of my semi-rural adolescence - read from New Addresses. Usually, I get impatient with explanations about a poem's composition, strategies, place in the author's oeuvre, etc., but Koch was a wonderful storyteller, and as the reading went on, poems and exposition began to bleed into each other: witty, philosophical, and humane. And in 1999, I saw William H. Gass, whose International Writers Center (IWC) had sponsored the above events, read a scarifying section of The Tunnel. (Readers can now hear the entire novel as an audiobook.) In larger cities where authors appear like summer fireflies - nightly, and en masse - it's easy to come to see readings as transactions: obligations (from one side of the ledger), or as promotional stunts (from the other). But those irruptions of literature into the flat gray Midwestern winters remind me - as Deborah Eisenberg and Péter Esterházy would later, in New York - that a great reading is a singular communal experience. Indeed, as a way into the minds of other human beings, declamation predates literature. Maybe this is why I get misty-eyed every time I hear that old wire recording of Walt Whitman reading "Pioneers! O Pioneers!" - even if the occasion is just a Levi's commercial. Sonya Chung: The other night, poet/performance artist/novelist Sapphire – author of the novel Push, on which the feature film Precious is based – did a public reading at the National Arts Club in New York to kick off the Poetry Society of America’s Centennial. The event was also the opening reception for an impressive and seemingly exhaustive exhibit of drawings, photographs, and oil portraits of distinguished poets (living and dead), and was preceded by a benefit reading featuring Galway Kinnell, Marie Ponsot, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Richard Howard. Sapphire opened with a poem by Etheridge Knight and went on to read her own work. Remind me to wear tight jeans and spike heels and to use my whole body and every register of voice I can muster the next time I do a reading. She sang, she incanted, she channeled and grooved. She read a poem about Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, another featuring Raskolnikov and Katerina, and the penultimate of the evening – a poem called “Survivor,” named for the reality show – that you’ll really just have to see/hear her read in person sometime. She stood in that venerable Gramercy parlor with 100 years of poetry creation and community welling up behind her, those venerable poets of yore looking on from their immortalized frames on all four walls; and one couldn’t help but be reminded of another kick-off event: January 20, 2009. Sapphire’s performance – both elegant and no-nonsense – and its spark of contextual incongruousness, made the reading utterly memorable. Anne Yoder: The bookish should take a cue from our more extroverted playwriting brethren and remember that an audience needs to be entertained. Literary readings are performances, people. This fact is too often forgotten, and readings frequently resemble reversions to grade school story time, or are reminiscent of lay readings at church services, where the nervous race to finish and the serious, often zealous, overdose on sincerity and didacticism. In terms of material, light, funny, and sexy generally goes further than complicated, sentimental, or sorrowful. But what stands out more are the readers themselves. Readers with oversized egos, with larger-than-life personas, or even a dollop of theatricality, know that impudence, playfulness, and ego make for a good show, and often, a memorable reading. The most remarkable readers I’ve seen have hewed to this rule. At a New Yorker Festival reading, Martin Amis made heads spin when he claimed that when he was younger his idea of a good time was lighting a joint, swigging a bottle of wine, and spending an evening reading his own writing. T.C. Boyle was endearingly cocky and wore suitably matched hot-pink Converse high-tops when he read at the 92nd Street Y last fall. Memory recalls hot pink, though my mind may be playing up his already eccentric appearance (loud shirt, gaunt face, and thin though voluminous hair). When artist Tracey Emin read from her memoir during Performa 09, her racy tale of an oversexed drug-addled visit to New York became so debauched she refused to read the passage to its end. She stopped short and exclaimed, “Schoolchildren in England read this?!” Emin’s infamous shamelessness made her obvious discomfort and subsequent omission all the more enticing. Playwright Edward Albee takes the prize, though, for his dramatic command in an impromptu performance. Albee read at a PEN reading to protest silenced Chinese writers on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, and began by remarking that many countries continue to violate their citizens' rights and imprison them unlawfully, most notably the United States and the People’s Republic of China. At which point, a man wearing a red T-shirt and bandana started shouting, “Long live the People’s Republic of China,” and, “PEN is the CIA.” At first Albee tried to engage the man's remarks and said that China should be allowed to continue on with nothing but severe criticism, and then lost patience and ordered him to be quiet. The protester was swiftly escorted outside where he continued his protest. In an apt denouement, Albee remarked that he was happy he lived in a country where people are free to say such things and continued reading. Millions readers, let us know about your best experiences at a reading - who are the best you've seen?

Writing in Trains

I. My subway writing habit began a few months ago, in the feverish time around the publication of my first novel. It was a hectic summer: my second novel was acquired just before my first novel came out, and it required four or five rounds of fairly intensive revisions, so I was revising the second book at exactly the moment when I needed to promote the first. And this juggling act was actually perfectly doable (and often even fun, in a hectic kind of a way), except that I’d already begun writing a third. Devoting time to the third book in those days felt vaguely irresponsible—there are only so many hours in a day, and the demands of the first two novels were so much more pressing and immediate. I felt that I couldn’t in good conscience sit down at my desk and work on a book that wouldn’t be close to ready for another year or two, with so much to be done on works that were either already in stores or mere months from publication. There were, however, a combined total of six hours a week spent on the subway, commuting to and from my day job, and it felt like extra time. My job’s far from where I live—if the trains are running smoothly, it’s a solid hour each way. I began scrawling fragments of the third novel on folded-up wads of scrap paper, using a book as my desk. A lot of reading goes on in the subway, but it’s rare to see anyone writing down there. I’ve only seen anyone else writing in the subway once or twice, and I began to wonder recently how common it is. So I turned, as I always do when I want to take a wildly unscientific sample poll of the general writing population, to Twitter and Facebook. II. Julie Klam writes on the 1 train. Her memoir, Please Excuse My Daughter, was published last year. “Being a work-at-home mother,” she told me, I take any writing time I can get. Since my daughter's school is a half-hour subway ride away, I can work on the two trips (the ones without her). I also work when I'm meeting someone for lunch to alleviate the guilt of not being home writing every free second I have. Part of the reason I like it is because it has a very distinct end. It's not like having six hours at home. I tend to have great bursts of inspiration that last about six stops. I also like having to beat the clock—knowing that I need to get a thought down before my station. I write notes about whatever I'm working on—a book or magazine piece and generally find the best stuff comes from when I'm out and about and not home and focused. It is also the only time I am not using a computer and there is something very useful to me about having to slow down my thoughts to hand write them (rather than hammering them out at the speed of light on my Mac). This closely mirrors my own experience, except for the bit about working at home and having a kid: it’s partly a question of only-so-many-hours-in-a-day necessity, but there’s also something about trains that’s oddly conducive to writing. For me it’s not so much about the hand writing—I write almost everything in longhand before I transcribe it to my computer anyway, whether I’m at my desk or on the F train—but the rhythm and the white noise, the momentum of travel, the feeling of being immersed in the life of the city. Joe Wallace’s first novel, Diamond Ruby, will be published this spring. He no longer lives in New York City, but he told me that “back when I lived in the city and rode the trains every day, I frequently spent most of my time writing... working on whatever novel I was dreaming of having published. I never planned to write on the train. It's just that I never know where some knot in the manuscript will untie itself, what intractable character will suddenly come clear, which brick wall will suddenly crumble away.” In many ways we’re lucky, commuting the way we do. It’s much harder to scribble your revelations in a moving automobile. III. There are a few who’ve taken it a step further: writers who actively seek out the subway as a work environment. One of my favorite novels of 2009 was Lowboy by John Wray. A lot of the action of the book takes place in the New York City subway system; I was somewhat startled to read in a recent story in the Wall Street Journal that most of it was written there too. Wray wrote much of the first draft on the F, C, and B trains, although “there was a time,” he told the Journal, “when I was really into the G.” For the better part of a year he sat near the conductor’s booth with a laptop, sometimes for six hours at a time. Wray’s arguably an outlier here, but he isn’t alone. New York playwright Mark Snyder lives and works in Manhattan, but he sometimes boards Brooklyn- and Queens-bound trains in order to write all the way to the outer boroughs and back. He wrote: I think the act of working, surrounded by other people living their lives, can be quite a compelling act for yourself. It makes me feel less alone—vs the desk in my apartment, with life happening "out there", behind the window—and somehow makes whatever I'm working on feel more important, more vital, more “I have to get this down NOW!” I would personally prefer, all things being equal, to do most of my writing at my desk. That said, I understand where Mark’s coming from—it’s why I sometimes write in cafés—and even the idea of writing an entire novel on the subway makes some sense to me, although I probably wouldn’t do it on a laptop. (I’ve used a laptop on the subway a few times, when faced with particularly looming deadlines; I find the “I wonder which of my fellow passengers is planning on mugging me?” calculus a little nerve-wracking.) I had an interesting Twitter conversation a few months ago with Drew Goodman, a writer and bookseller living in Utah; both of us, we discovered, like writing in fairly noisy environments on occasion. There’s something about white noise that helps people like me and Drew focus; even in my quiet office, I’m usually listening to ambient electronica while I write. White noise aside, there’s a certain paradoxical privacy in working on the subway. It’s New York City, and we’ve all seen everything down here: if you start writing on the train nobody’s likely to give you a second glance, unless of course you’re writing on your laptop and they’re planning on stealing it at the next stop. Except on the rare elevated sections of track, your phone won’t ring. The odds of running into anyone you know are fairly slim. And Mark Snyder’s right, you’re less alone in the subway than you are at your desk, but what makes writing on a train viable at all is that your aloneness is still a matter of degree. You’re out in the world, surrounded by other people, but there’s enough solitude in that crowd to get some writing done. [Image credit: Jim Kuhn]

A Year in Reading: Emily St. John Mandel

I think I’ll remember 2009 as the year when I made a conscious effort to immerse myself in the culture of books, and fell more deeply in love with that culture than I would have thought possible. My first novel was published a few months ago, and in the lead-up to publication I began spending an inordinate amount of time talking to booksellers online and in person, going to other writers’ events, lingering in bookstores and reading all the fiction I could get my hands on. Reading has become one of the great joys of my life, and I think I’ve probably read more books in 2009 than I did in the previous five years combined. It’s hard to pick a favorite. I thought Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply and Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn were breathtaking. I loved John Wray’s Lowboy. But in a year awash in books, one in particular stands out: Shaun Tan’s gorgeously illustrated Tales from Outer Suburbia is the size and shape of a children’s picture book, but I’m not sure I’d give it to a child. The Library of Congress summary describes the book as “fifteen illustrated short stories… set in the Australian suburbs,” but these suburbs aren’t quite of this earth. Tan’s suburbia is a haunted place, sometimes banal and sometimes beautiful, populated by strange apparitions—a water buffalo who lives in a vacant lot and gives directions to children in need, a man in an antiquated and heavily barnacled deep-sea diving suit who drips water from his air pipe as he wanders blindly down the street. Mysterious courtyards open up impossibly between attics and upstairs rooms; figures made of sticks and clumps of clod wander silently over the landscape; dogs gather one night outside the burning home of a man who recently beat his own dog to death. I’ve been slightly obsessed with this book for months. More from A Year in Reading

Curiosities: Raw Power

RSVP: We've already had several RSVPs for our NYC indie bookstore walking tour. Get all the details via our announcement post.People are still adding to our collaborative literary Atlas. Recent additions include several non-bookstore literary spots in the Midwest, including the Kate Chopin House and the final resting place of William S. Burroughs. The Atlas itself has been viewed over 100,000 times.Panelists at the SXSW "New Think for Old Media" panel face death by a thousand Tweets.Also via Freebird: Iggy Pop explores Michel Houellebecq's raw power.Mark Grief and Year in Reading contributor Wells Tower give far-ranging interviews in a new online journal, Wag's ReviewHanif Kureishi discusses life after the Rushdie fatwa.A bibliography of coffee.The editor of John Updike's book reviews remembers the writer: "he was attentive to everything."Cathleen Schine admires Zoe Heller's The Believers.The Village Voice praises Mary Gaitskill's "ludicrous mastery."In two long posts, Blographia Literaria offers a thoughtful alternative to our take on The Kindly OnesBen Okri pioneers the Twitter poem.Two books named Brooklyn enter, one book named Brooklyn leaves. (via)Tucker Carlson sounds a dissenting note on Jon Stewart in the wake of the Jim Cramer takedown.Levi Asher and Scott Esposito discuss litblog economics.At The Second Pass, Jon Fasman calls readers' attention to Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker, echoing John Wray's Year in Reading contention that "Sometimes, though, a work of originality and genius slips inexplicably through the cracks."Wray's Lowboy, meanwhile, got the James Wood treatment at the New Yorker this week.

A Year in Reading: John Wray

John Wray is the author of the novels The Right Hand of Sleep and Canaan's Tongue. The recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and a Whiting Award in fiction, he was recently named one of Granta magazine's twenty best American novelists under thirty-five. His new novel, Lowboy, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux this coming March.Most of the time, when a novel is forgotten, literary justice has been served: it's atrociously written, or its attitudes have aged badly, or it's simply a lesser imitation of a book that made the cut. Sometimes, though, a work of originality and genius slips inexplicably through the cracks, and it's in search of these lost treasures - 'black pearls', as my friend Bill, an antiquarian book dealer, calls them - that poor sods like me spend their days in second-hand bookshops, blowing dust off of sun-bleached spines and flipping doggedly through voided library paperbacks we've never even heard of. Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban, is a black pearl if there ever was one. Set in a post-apocalyptic England in which all but the most basic civilization has decayed, and written in a kind of radioactive pidgin that heightens both the absurdity and horror of the world it describes, the novel tells the story of the uneasy friendship between two adolescent boys - one a normal teenager, one a clairvoyant mutant - who happen, more or less by accident, on the secret of the atomic bomb. I won't say more than that, but trust me, it's a humdinger. In the words of Anthony Burgess, whose A Clockwork Orange is one of the only novels Riddley Walker owes a debt to: "This is what literature was meant to be - exploration without fear."More from A Year in Reading 2008

A Year in Reading 2008

The distractions of a good book have been in high demand this year. A quiet corner and a transporting story offered a reprieve from relentless campaign news not to mention cheap entertainment for the many feeling a sudden impulse for thriftiness. 2008 was a loud year, and this final month seems likely to be only more deafening. The annual shopping frenzy has already ramped up, this year with overtones of desperation and the macabre.Yet in the spirit of the season (though in defiance of the prevailing mood), we offer a month of gifts - collected with the help of many generous friends - to our readers. There will be plenty of lists in the coming days assigning 2008's best books (and movies and music and everything else you can think of), but it is our opinion that these lists are woefully incompatible with the habits of most readers. As it does with many things in our culture, what we call "the tyranny of the new" holds particularly strong sway over these lists. With books, however, it is different. We are as likely to be moved by a book written 200 years ago as we are by one written two months ago, and a list of the "Best Books of 2008" feels fairly meaningless when you walk down the aisles of your favorite bookstore or library.Being a reader is about having millions of choices, and a lucky reader has trusted fellow readers as her guides. With this in mind, we've asked a number of our favorite readers (and writers and thinkers) to be your guides for the month of December, with each contributor sharing with us the best book(s) they read in 2008, regardless of publication date. And so we present to you our 2008 Year in Reading, a non-denominational advent calendar of reading recommendations to take you through to the end of 2008.We're doing it a little differently this year. The names 2008 Year in Reading contributors will be unveiled one at a time throughout the month as we post their contributions. You can bookmark this post to follow the series from here, you can just load up the main page for more new Year in Reading posts appearing at the top every day, or you can subscribe to our RSS feed and follow along in your favorite feed reader.Stephen Dodson author of Uglier Than a Monkey's Armpit, proprietor of LanguagehatNam Le author of The BoatBenjamin Kunkel founding editor of N+1 and author of IndecisionRosecrans Baldwin founding editor of The Morning News and author of You Lost Me ThereHamilton Leithauser lead singer of The WalkmenMark Binelli author of Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!Dan Kois founding editor of VultureAmanda Petrusich author of It Still MovesJoseph O'Neill author of NetherlandRex Sorgatz of Fimoculous.com.Elizabeth McCracken author of An Exact Replica of a Figment of My ImaginationJoan Silber author of Ideas of Heaven and The Size of the WorldAnder Monson author of Other ElectricitiesDon Lee author of Wrack and RuinTraver Kauffman of Black GarterbeltBuzz Poole author of Madonna of the ToastEdan Lepucki of The MillionsJim Shepard author of Like You'd Understand, AnywayPeter Straub author of seventeen novelsRachel Fershleiser co-editor of Not Quite What I Was PlanningCharles Bock author of Beautiful ChildrenEdward Champion of The Bat Segundo Show and edrants.comHelen Dewitt author of The Last SamuraiManil Suri author of The Age of ShivaCharles D'Ambrosio author of The Dead Fish MuseumChristopher Sorrentino author of TranceWells Tower author of Everything Ravaged, Everything BurnedLawrence Hill author of Someone Knows My NameJohn Wray author of LowboyEd Park founding editor of The Believer and author of Personal DaysSarah Manguso author of The Two Kinds of DecayKrin Gabbard author of Hotter Than ThatJosh Henkin author of MatrimonyJosh Bazell author of Beat the ReaperBrian Evenson by The Open CurtainCarolyn Kellogg of Jacket Copy and www.carolynkellogg.comHesh Kestin author of Based on a True StoryScott Esposito editor of The Quarterly Conversation and proprietor of Conversational ReadingGarth Risk Hallberg author of A Field Guide to the North American Family: An Illustrated Novella, contributor to The MillionsSana Krasikov author of One More YearSeth Lerer author of Children's Literature: A Reader's HistoryLorraine López author of The Gifted Gabaldon SistersAnne Landsman author of The Rowing Lesson and The Devil's ChimneyMark Sarvas author of Harry, Revised and proprietor of The Elegant VariationBrad Gooch author of City PoetKyle Minor author of In the Devil's TerritoryChristine Schutt author of Florida and All SoulsTodd Zuniga founding editor of Opium MagazineDavid Heatley author of My Brain is Hanging Upside DownV.V. Ganeshananthan author of Love MarriageFrances de Pontes Peebles author of The SeamstressLaura Miller cofounder of Salon.com author of The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in NarniaDustin Long author of IcelanderMaria Semple author of This One is MineRob Gifford of NPR, author of China RoadJohn Dufresne author of Requiem, MassMatthew Rohrer author of Rise UpMickey Hess author of Big Wheel at the Cracker FactoryGregory Rodriguez author of Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and VagabondsDavid Ebershoff author of The 19th WifeTim W. Brown author of Walking ManPablo De Santis author of The Paris EnigmaHugo Hamilton author of DisguiseJoshua Furst author of The Sabotage CafeKevin Hartnett of The MillionsRoland Kelts author of JapanamericaNikil Saval assistant editor at n+1The Year in Reading RecapBonus Links: A Year in Reading 2007, 2006, 2005
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