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Imperial by William T. Vollmann

Vollmann attempts to capture the lives of his subjects as fully as possible -- it is better by far to listen to the voices and stories of outcasts, eccentrics, poor people, and the powerless.

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Viking

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Potato by John Reader

With tremendous enthusiasm for his humble subject, Reader recaps the historical usefulness of the potato, but adds little to overall understanding of the impact the potato has had on labor and society.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

I Go To Some Hollow by Amina Cain

At her best, Cain does a remarkable job of precisely evoking the way her characters feel as they give themselves over to the experience of some small, mundane mystery.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche

For all its abundant sexual frankness, the novel’s primary focus is not on the erotic, but on the scatological.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

Castle & Pieces for the Left Hand

Neither book fully transcends the level of genre exercise, and both lose steam once the limits of Lennon’s formal concerns become apparent.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

In the United States of Africa by Abdourahman A. Waberi

In David and Nicole Ball’s translation, Waberi’s prose reads as both riotously funny and lyrically lush, offering big laughs as well as multifaceted subtleties of expression.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris

Harris spins an engrossing tale of the collision between artistic ambition and studio politics, all set against the backdrop of the dramatic cultural upheaval of America in the '60s.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

Immersed in minutiae, O'Nan succeeds by observing details as a means for exploring the hearts and minds of sympathetic, ordinary characters in times of crisis.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain by Kirsten Menger-Anderson

Menger-Anderson captures the passion of contemporary medical researchers -- but has trouble empathizing with the phrenologists, electrocshock therapists, and lobotomists of generations past.

Ryan Michael Williams
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2666: A Novel

2666: A Novel - Roberto Bolano and Natasha Wimmer - Farrar, Straus and Giroux [$30.00]

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

2666 by Roberto Bolaño

This posthumously-published masterpiece is an expansive, teeming city, chaotic and vibrant, beautiful but rough around the edges, home to both gleaming towers and squalid holes.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

The Last Fish Tale by Mark Kurlansky

After centuries of stubborn and eccentric independence, the fishing village microcosm of Gloucester, Massachusetts, is now poised on the brink of economic and cultural disaster.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

Tycoon's War by Stephen Dando-Collins

Although these accounts of Walker’s military adventures are often engrossing, they only serve as distraction, attempting to present him as a hero.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates

A strange hybrid of cultural parody and psychological realism, in which Oates’s broadly drawn characters gradually take on realistic emotional complexity.

Ryan Michael Williams
Books

Clawing at the Limits of Cool by Griffin & Washington

The greatest strength of this book comes in Griffin and Washington's perceptive analysis of the cultural meanings of the public images projected by both musicians.

Ryan Michael Williams

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