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Author Archive: "Jeremy"

The Hour of the Star

Lispector, a Jewish, Ukraine-born Brazilian author and journalist, is much-beloved throughout the world, but is sadly under-read in the United States. Her last (and most popular) work, The Hour of the Star, was originally published mere months before her death in 1977. Lispector's novel offers the story of Macabéa, a poor, unattractive, and malnourished — yet curious (if not a little naïve) — Rio-based typist, as well as that of the book's narrator, Rodrigo S.M., and his mounting hardships in conveying the tale of young Macabéa. Exquisite and singular, the often-woeful novel is magnificent as much for its story as for the uncommon approach by which it's told. Lispector's gifted prose frequently shimmers with an innocent beauty, and so many of her passages nearly radiate from the page. Lispector may well be one of the most brilliant writers you haven't yet had the honor of reading.

Talking to Ourselves

Andrés Neuman possesses a formidable talent. Talking to Ourselves, despite its solemnity, is an exceptional work of considerable emotional breadth. While the story itself may well be dolorous, it radiates with an authenticity that can often be elusive in fiction. There's a vibrancy and liveliness to Neuman's writing (as well-evidenced, too, in 2012's remarkable Traveler of the Century) that is irresistible. Even if one were not captivated by his arresting tale, persuasive characters, or sonorous prose, the impassioned effects of his storytelling are inescapable.


Completed in 2003 shortly before his death, 2666 is not only Roberto Bolaño's masterpiece but also one of the finest and most important novels of the 21st century. It's an entire world unto itself, one — not unlike our own — filled with horror, neglect, depravity, brilliance, and beauty. Epic in scope and epitomizing the "total novel," 2666 fuses many different genres and styles to create a singular and unforgettable work of contemporary fiction. While Bolaño's swan song marked the pinnacle of a sadly truncated literary career, his immense talent, creativity, and vision endure.

On Such a Full Sea

From the acclaimed author of Native Speaker comes a stirring new novel set in a futuristic America. With beautiful prose, Chang-rae Lee relates the captivating tale of a young woman compelled to find her lover after his disappearance from their labor settlement.

How Literature Saved My Life

David Shields's new book is a collagist's and lit lover's dream come true. Erudite and thoughtful, if you've ever lived or read a novel, you'll find much to admire and ruminate upon.

Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile

Feeding on Dreams is a candid and powerful account of Ariel Dorfman's years in exile after he fled the horrors of the Pinochet regime in Chile. This exploration of both the immediate and lasting effects of political repression and violence is characterized by an unflinching regard for truth and is expressed in prose that is as illuminating as his subject is dark. A deeply passionate book, Dorfman lays bare his anger, frustration, regret, and self-criticism, as well as his hope, longing, faith, determination, and passion.

Report from Wordstock

[Editor's Note: The Wordstock Festival overtook the city of Portland from November 6th through the 9th. Check out a photo slide show here.]

With nearly 200 authors on-hand, the fourth installment of Wordstock, Portland's annual literary festival, was quite the success. A book lover's playground, Wordstock featured over 150 exhibitors, including independent bookshops, local publishers, and small presses. The only problem faced by festival-goers was how best to apportion their time between the ten author stages, numerous workshops, and many panel discussions.

This year's overall attendance exceeded last year's, and some of the weekend's biggest draws were for authors John Hodgman (More Information Than You Require), Alison Bechdel (Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, The Essential Dykes to Watch Out for), and Lynda Barry (What It Is).

Bibliophiles from around the Portland area descended on the convention center ...

Island (Perennial Classics)

Published in 1962, the year before his death (which occurred on the same day JFK was assassinated), Island is the antithesis of his earlier-acclaimed Brave New World. Whereas Brave New World describes the epitome of a dystopian future, Island is a richly imagined utopian realm.

Pala, a fictional island, is home to an undisturbed and prospering society — that is, until a skeptical journalist named Will Farnaby is shipwrecked upon its shores. As much a philosophical exposition as it is a novel, Island further expounds upon many of the themes Huxley explored throughout his illustrious career: democracy, modernization, industrialization, overpopulation, ecology, consciousness, psychedelic drugs, and mysticism.

Island's allegorical tale, sadly, seems as relevant today as when it was written nearly a half-century ago. With his trademark wisdom and unyielding insight, Huxley has crafted a hopeful story that should appeal to all who seek a better world.

The Monkey Wrench Gang

He's often compared to Thoreau, and one of his mottos was taken from Emerson: "resist much, obey little." While Abbey has much in common with the forefathers of environmental conservation, he certainly took it a few giant steps further. Abbey and his Monkey Wrench Gang are often credited with germination the seeds of the eco-sabotage movement (including Earth First!). This is the story of four rugged individuals in the American West, witnesses to the destruction of a pristine landscape, who will do whatever it takes to halt the devouring mechanism that is corporate and governmental greed. This uproarious and cleverly written classic will, in turns, make you seethe with anger, hold your breath in anticipation, and laugh out loud. In more ways than one, it's a truly incendiary tale.


Following the (U.S. backed) military coup of Chilean president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973, Ariel Dorfman (until then a cultural advisor to Allende) was forced into exile. Widows was the first novel Dorfman authored as an émigré. As some of his books had previously been banned, he had initially considered publishing this one under a pseudonym (Eric Lohmann) to avoid further censorship in the countries whose readers he was hoping would have access to his work. Following submission of the completed manuscript, a publishing house that had previously shown "enthusiastic interest" in the project abandoned publication for fear of repercussions.

Dorfman set Widows in Greece, rather than in his native Chile, under the presumption that, in conjunction with the aforementioned pen name, readers would have been "persuaded that it had indeed been penned forty years ago in Denmark, just before the author himself was taken off into the nacht und nebel." With themes that would be revisited in his later works, Widows concerns the disappearance of a rural village's menfolk at the hands of a military regime. The many atrocities and human rights violations (murder, torture, detention, etc.) that took place throughout Pinochet's regime (following the coup) were very ...

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