July/August 2008

Our annual guide to summer’s biggest books, plus recommendations from Ethan Canin, Garth Stein, Sarah Manguso, and five authors making their debuts.


Summer Reading

Moving as Brightness Into Brightness: A Profile of Sarah Manguso

by Mary Gannon
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Unlike big books of embellishments, Sarah Manguso's new memoir is a lyrical meditation on being alive.

That Which You Manifest Is Before You: A Profile of Garth Stein

by Scott Driscoll
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After a series of setbacks in the race toward writerly success, novelist Garth Stein finally took the wheel. And won.

First Fiction: Our Annual Look at Summer's Debut Stars

by Staff
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The debuts of Rivka Galchen, Nam Le, Leni Zumas, Salvatore Scibona, and Preeta Samarasan.

Beginners to Blockbusters: A Roundup of Notable Novels

by Staff
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A look at this summer's biggest book.

News and Trends

The Permanent Prince

by Sarah Weinman

As the English-speaking world's most famous playwright, William Shakespeare wields a tremendous influence over popular culture, even four centuries after his death. Two new novels, published within a month of each other, bring Hamlet into sharper contemporary focus—and they could not be more different.

The New Creative Nonfiction Writers

by Kelly Nuxoll

Citizen journalists, often blogging in real time, have forced an expansion of creative nonfiction by influencing public opinion on important issues such as the presidential campaign.


Anthologies Offer Poetic Diplomacy

by Travis Nichols

While it's safe to say the twenty-first century has so far not been a great time for American diplomacy, a handful of new poetry anthologies, from Norton, Dalkey Archive Press, North Atlantic Books, and Graywolf Press, offer proof that American poetic diplomacy might be entering a new golden age.

Small Press Points

by Kevin Larimer

Small Press Points highlights the happenings of the small press players. This issue features Dzanc Books, OV Books, Black Lawrence Press, Siglio Press, and Coffee House Press.

Literary MagNet

by Kevin Larimer

Literary MagNet chronicles the start-ups and closures, successes and failures, anniversaries and accolades, changes of editorship and special issues—in short, the news and trends—of literary magazines in America. This issue's MagNet features the Southern Review, the Florida Review, the Ontario Review, and Volt.

The Written Image: Gonzo

by Staff

The latest documentary film about Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson, coming to theaters this month, features rare home videos, film clips, and interviews with Johnny Depp, Pat Buchanan, Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Buffet, George McGovern, and others.


The Practical Writer

The Practice of Remaining in the Dark: How to Create Complex Characters

by Robert Boswell
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A guide to developing authentic characters in fiction.

The Literary Life