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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers



I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »

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Customer Comments

Elizabeth L has commented on (27) products.

Paradise Alley (P.S.) by Kevin Baker
Paradise Alley (P.S.)

Elizabeth L, June 10, 2010

I don't normally like historical fiction, but couldn't get enough of this book. It vividly depicted the New York draft riots through a diverse and amazing cast of characters. I loved it and can't wait to read other historical novels by Kevin Baker.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)



Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York by Adam Gopnik
Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York

Elizabeth L, March 28, 2010

I wish Adam Gopnik would write books about all the places I've lived. First with his book about Paris, and then in this book of collected essays about New York, he captures with brilliance and eloquence all of the contradictory emotions places and spaces bring to their inhabitants. His accounts are incredibly moving, and this book in particular utilizes his childrens' growth as a metaphor for aging, loss, joy, and wonder. Though some of the selections are reprinted from pieces he published in The New Yorker, many of them were written expressly for this volume, including his tales of his first Thanksgivings back in New York, which punctuate the book and give a sense of the time period it belongs to. Particularly in these longer selections, Gopnik has a gift for weaving together disparate narratives, making them all speak to a single theme with a final flourish of beautifully drafted prose. Of course, part of the book's gravitas is provided by the time period it depicts: just before and in the years after 9/11. But Gopnik is not eager to make mileage of this event as much as he uses it to illustrate larger ideas about New York as a place and its citizens as a people. As a result his book feels like it will matter long beyond the years it chronicles and will speak to a far greater breadth of readers than those who inhabit the island of Manhattan. I can't recommend it enough.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)



Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books by Jo Steffens
Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books

Elizabeth L, February 11, 2010

This book is both beautiful look at and amazing to read (not unlike the books that are its subject). I could spend hours pouring over these intimate portraits of architects' shelves and the books that inhabit them.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)



Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
Magic for Beginners

Elizabeth L, February 8, 2010

This book was fantastic in both senses of the word. I could have read hundreds more pages about the family who moved to the haunted house with stone rabbits out front, the universe inside the grandmother's pocketbook, or the mysterious television series "The Library." It was all rendered so visibly, and made complete by entirely apt yet totally original descriptions.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)



Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
Consider the Lobster

Elizabeth L, February 1, 2010

Comprised entirely of previously published (in one case, spoken) articles, this compilation is well-worth reading because it likely contains things most DFW fans won't have read in their earliest incarnations but (in either case) are worth re/reading here because they haven't been edited down to fit the confining contours of the likes of Harpers, (now-defunct) Gourmet, Rolling Stone, etc. Original publication aside, however, the essays in this compilation are all brilliant. They demonstrate DFW's always impressive eye for detail, his intense modesty (combined with a willingness for self-reflexivity that is both postmodern but also genuine -- not that those two things need be mutually exclusive), and a range of expertise that is impossibly deep for a single individual. I'm not sure why one would, but if you are going to only read selections from this book, don't miss his epic "Authority & American Usage" wherein he, while reviewing a grammar and usage text, somehow explicates the ideology of all language. Similarly, "Up, Simba," an account of John McCain's brief run for president in the 2000 election, emerges as both an incredible behind the scenes look at politics as well as a meditation on reality. On a more intimate scale, "The View from Mrs. Thompson's", his reflection on 9/11 is poignant and incredibly moving. But, like all of the essays, even this most personal one is about so much more. Wallace truly had a gift for relating the particular to the global, taking specificity and making it soar in ways few writers can. It goes without saying it is bittersweet to have finally read this collection after DFW's suicide. It's impossible to read him now without wishing you could always encounter new pieces by such an extraordinary writer. Thankfully, these essays (along with just about everything else he wrote) are rich enough to warrant revisiting again and again.
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