What is A/S Reading? – No. 11

If April showers bring May flowers, then unexpected October snowstorms bring November reading, making it the perfect time for a little section we like to call: What is A/S Reading?

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At the urging of Managing Editor Evan Simko-Bednarski, Fiction Editor John M. Cusick is reading The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré.

After reading Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, I was looking for something with a little more punch, and so far I’m thrilled. This is my first time reading Le Carré, and I’m surprised how lovely his prose can be. I’m looking forward to reading more of his stuff.

Publicist Vicki Lame just started Lightning People by Christopher Bollen.

I am a sucker for a good, complex New York novel full of insanely quotable sentences. And, though I am only on page 26, Bollen’s debut effort delivers exactly that.  However, this novel promises to be so much more than just another New York book. I can already tell it is going to be a multi-layered epic with characters that get trapped in my brain, and I can’t wait to spend some quality time with it. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the first sentence I underlined: “At some point, the weather changed when no one was looking, and we were no longer so young in New York.”

Poetry Editor Evan Simko-Bednarski is reading Red Stick Men by Tim Parrish, a collection of short stories about growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the 1960s.

Thus far, the narrator and the narrator’s family remain constant from story to story, lending this collection something I’m really beginning to appreciate: the scope of a novel, arrayed across easily digestible, stand-alone story-arcs. And the stories themselves are unadorned, eschewing resolution in favor of a rugged sense of reality — a snapshot of a life in a confused American South rather than an elaboration. These stories bring to mind some of the beautiful straightforwardness of Breece Pancake’s West Virginia, and I recommend them highly.

Managing Editor Laura McMillan is reading Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock.

Go on, read that title and author out loud to yourself a few times. Isn’t that fun?

This is tale of America in the 1920s, a magical world in which a man can go to a fourth-rate medical school and make a killing implanting goat testicles in humans as a “revitalization treatment,” while staying one step ahead of a dweeby but surprisingly badass editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. I just read a scene in which one of the JAMA crowd gets into a fistfight with Sinclair Lewis in the back of a taxi cab.

FLIMFLAM!

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