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Fiction Chronicle

May 2012

The unheimlich maneuver

by Stefan Beck

On The Vanishers, by Heidi Julavits, Hope: A Tragedy, by Shalom Auslander, Gods Without Men, by Hari Kunzru, and Varamo, by César Aira.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the ability to order books online. One can avoid all manner of ghastliness. The public library usually furnishes whatever queer and misbegotten tome I’ve gone in search of, but too often it furnishes darker things besides—such eldritch sights as one might fear from a place with rules against “being less than fully clothed” and “misusing” the restroom “including [by] bathing.” Although used bookstores yield the odd treasure, I am by no means one of those antiquarians who finds himself, tentacles—er, spectacles—askew, intoxicated by a pungent bouquet of spores, molds, and fungus. Chain bookstores provide their own species of the unspeakable. Last time I went to Barnes & Noble, I saw a sign advertising Teen Paranormal Romance. As some might say: Oh my Elder Gods.

Back when “ro ...

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Stefan Beck is a writer living in Hudson, New York. He has contributed on fiction and other subjects to The Wall Street Jounral, The New York Sun, and elsewhere.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 30 May 2012, on page 47

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Facing the music

by Stefan Beck

Reviews of Play Pretty Blues by Snowden Wright, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne, The Guts by Roddy Doyle, and Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker.

Fifty million fables

by Stefan Beck

Reviews of Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho, Fight Song by Joshua Mohr, The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte, and The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud.

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Go walkabout

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Coverage of Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis, A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers, The Lower River by Paul Theroux, and Voss by Patrick White.

Four horsemen

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On The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta, Zone One by Colson Whitehead, The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco & Cain by José Saramago.

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On The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Slim by Jonathan Coe, Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell & The Pale King by David Foster Wallace.

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