Found in translation: Ireland

The Deportees, a collection of short stories by Irish author Roddy Doyle, is great–if you’re Irish. But if you’re not, nor haven’t spent much time there, well … it’s still, as the Irish would say, “pretty fuckin’ good.”


With 15 published pieces so far and more on the way, Ooligan Press is definitely a success. They represent a large variety of work, including conspiracy thrillers, magical realism, poetry and political writing.

Cross-mind traffic

It wouldn’t be fair to call Diary of a Bad Year, the latest by author J.M. Coetzee, a bad book. But then, it’s not a great story either. No, if anything, Diary of a Bad Year is an intriguing philosophical labyrinth.

Extreme lives

They say that reality is stranger than fiction. This is certainly the case in Her Last Death, Susanna Sonnenberg’s new memoir.

It’s OK to eat

In Defense of Food, the latest from author Michael Pollan, is fantastic. Following up on the themes he brought up in his previous work, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto finally answers the problem he left his reader’s with: So now that you’ve taken away my Big Mac, what am I supposed to eat? His answer: eat food. But not too much. And mostly plants.

The non-believer’s bible

If Everything You Know About God is Wrong was intended to be a straightforward anthology of religious essays, then it could be called a success. However, if there was a greater purpose or point, say to discredit our preconceived ideas about religion, then it missed the mark entirely.

The Abstinence Teacher

Ruth Ramsay is the unwilling, titular character in The Abstinence Teacher. Ramsay, a former sex-ed teacher, landed herself the position after making the innocent remark that “some people enjoy it”–“it” being oral sex.

The heart of the matter

It’s 1917, America has entered the Great War, and Martha Lessen arrives in Eastern Oregon on a mission to break wild horses. She is a large girl, taller than most men. She is also sensitive, not the best trait for a girl doing what most consider a man’s job. She is a girl who knows her horses. She is the protagonist of Molly Gloss’ latest novel, The Hearts of Horses.

Workingman’s tale

Last Night at the Lobster begins with the lone figure of Manny DeLeon, the manager of an aging Red Lobster in New England, opening for his last day of business. Written by Stewart O’Nan, this is just the latest in his cannon of the workingman. It’s nowheres-ville fiction, and while there are some definite strengths, the plot line is plodding and often uninteresting.

Murder gets personal

The legal system isn’t always fair and Linda Spalding knows that well. Her latest book, Who Named The Knife, tells the tale of two women, one struggling with her past and looking for a way to right past wrongs, the other serving a life sentence in California for a crime she may not have committed.