Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dear Husband

What does Joyce Carol Oates, a novelist, poet and critic of ­Scheherazade-like versatility, bring to the claustrophobic confines of the short story? These 14 noirish narratives, gathered with a title story that might be summarized as “Dear Husband, I’m afraid I’ve killed the kids,” imply that American family life, especially of the upscale white suburban variety, is no protection against the horrors that lurk a block, a click, a letter, a phone call away.

- Christopher Benfey, NYTimes.com

Read the rest of the review here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

It’s Not You, It’s Your Books

Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!” We’ve all been there. Or some of us have. Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast. At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility. These days, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding. When it comes to online dating, even casual references can turn into deal breakers.

- Rachel Donadio, NYTimes.com

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Your Mother Should Know

Used to be, it was easy to ignore your mother. When the caller ID kicked in, you simply didn’t pick up. If she left a message, you accidentally “forgot” to check. … Not that you had anything against the dear woman who gave you birth! You just didn’t have the time, that particular moment, to deal. Lately, however, as Doree Shafrir and Jessica Grose’s “Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages from Home” attests, mothers have found a new way to break through the protective cordon that their grown children throw around their private lives. It’s called e-mail; and even a mom outfoxed by Twitter can whip out an e-mail subject line with Zorro-like flourish. Here’s one: “Remember Me? Your mother? Call me.” And another: “hi i want grandchildren.” En garde!

- Liesl Schillinger, NYTimes online

Read the rest of the review here.