Michael Schaub http://wdiy.org en When Love Is 'In The House' http://wdiy.org/post/when-love-house "Love is not all," warned the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. "It is not meat nor drink / Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain." She was right, of course, but if there were ever any advice destined to fall on stubbornly deaf ears, this is it. Love is not all, but it always feels like it is, whether you're happily partnered or bereft.<p>That's also why it's a notoriously difficult subject for writers, though god knows it hasn't stopped them from trying, with very mixed results. Thu, 20 Jun 2013 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 22182 at http://wdiy.org When Love Is 'In The House' Echoes Of Orwell In 'The Office Of Mercy' http://wdiy.org/post/echoes-orwell-office-mercy It was no less than the master of dystopian fiction, George Orwell, who noted in a 1946 essay that "political language has to consist largely of euphemism. ... Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air ... Tue, 26 Feb 2013 13:31:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 15690 at http://wdiy.org Echoes Of Orwell In 'The Office Of Mercy' 'Vampires' Isn't Sparkly — It's Magnificent http://wdiy.org/post/vampires-isnt-sparkly-its-magnificent There's a popular misconception that literary fiction is supposed to be staid, boring, realistic to a fault. Like all stereotypes, it's deeply unfair, but it endures, perhaps because readers keep having traumatic flashbacks to novels, like <em>Sister Carrie</em>, that they were forced to read in high school.<p>But in her new short story collection, <em>Vampires in the Lemon Grove</em>, it takes Karen Russell only a few pages to put the lie to that idea. The book opens with the title story, the tale of an aging vampire couple falling out of love with each other. Tue, 12 Feb 2013 12:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 14932 at http://wdiy.org 'Vampires' Isn't Sparkly — It's Magnificent Here's To The Pleasures Of 'Drinking With Men' http://wdiy.org/post/heres-pleasures-drinking-men "More than anywhere else," writes Rosie Schaap, "bars are where I've figured out how to relate to others and how to be myself." It's the same for a lot of us, though many won't admit it. Americans tend to have a weirdly puritanical view of drinking, and a lot of people see bars as nothing more than havens for lowlifes and alcoholics. But as Schaap points out in her new memoir, they're missing out. "You can drink at home. But a good bar? ... Wed, 23 Jan 2013 12:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 13850 at http://wdiy.org Here's To The Pleasures Of 'Drinking With Men' From George Saunders, A Dark 'December' http://wdiy.org/post/george-saunders-dark-december Since the publication of George Saunders' 1996 debut story collection, <a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/138071317/civilwarland-in-bad-decline-stories-and-a-novella">Civilwarland in Bad Decline</a>, journalists and scholars have been trying to figure out how to describe his writing. Nobody has come very close. The short story writer and novelist has been repeatedly called "original," which is true as far as it goes — but it doesn't go nearly far enough. Saunders blends elements of science fiction, horror and humor writing into his trademark brand of literary fiction. Tue, 08 Jan 2013 12:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 13072 at http://wdiy.org From George Saunders, A Dark 'December' True Originals: Biographies That Defy Expectations http://wdiy.org/post/true-originals-biographies-defy-expectations It's probably not true that truth is stranger than fiction, but in the hands of a great biographer, it can be just as compelling. Novelists can create unique and unforgettable characters — there's never been anyone quite like Jane Eyre or Ignatius J. Reilly — but there's no shortage of fascinating literary protagonists who just happened to exist in real life.<p>This year brought us some brilliant biographies of world-famous leaders like Lyndon B. Mon, 17 Dec 2012 12:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 12076 at http://wdiy.org True Originals: Biographies That Defy Expectations 'Brain On Fire' Details An Out-Of-Mind Experience http://wdiy.org/post/brain-fire-details-out-mind-experience It's a cold March night in New York, and journalist Susannah Cahalan is watching PBS with her boyfriend, trying to relax after a difficult day at work. He falls asleep, and wakes up moments later to find her having a seizure straight out of <em>The Exorcist</em>. "My arms suddenly whipped straight out in front of me, like a mummy, as my eyes rolled back and my body stiffened," Cahalan writes. "I inhaled repeatedly, with no exhale. Wed, 14 Nov 2012 12:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 10422 at http://wdiy.org 'Brain On Fire' Details An Out-Of-Mind Experience 'Elsewhere' Has Beauty, But No Happy Ending http://wdiy.org/post/elsewhere-has-beauty-no-happy-ending Richard Russo sits in his elderly mother's home, holding her hand. She's just been diagnosed with dementia, one more illness to add to the long list of ailments she's been battling for years. She wonders aloud whether she'll ever be able to read again, plainly scared at the prospect of a life without her favorite hobby. She takes a look around her small apartment, and tells her son that she hates it.<p>"I just wish you could be happy, Mom," he says, heartbroken. "I used to be," she responds. Thu, 01 Nov 2012 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 9664 at http://wdiy.org 'Elsewhere' Has Beauty, But No Happy Ending Assaying The Legacy Of 'The Big Screen' http://wdiy.org/post/assaying-legacy-big-screen "The fact is I am quite happy in a movie, even a bad movie," admits Binx Bolling, the hero of Walker Percy's 1961 novel <em>The Moviegoer</em>. It's the same for a lot of us — cinema affects us in ways we don't always understand, and even the worst films appeal to our nostalgia and sense memories in manners that defy the normal rules of taste and logic. (Currently, on my DVR: <em>La Dolce Vita</em>, a classic I know I <em>should</em> see at some point, and <em>Gymkata</em>, a truly terrible 1985 martial-arts flick I've watched a dozen times. Thu, 18 Oct 2012 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 8951 at http://wdiy.org Assaying The Legacy Of 'The Big Screen' Page And Screen Make Peace In 'Mr. Penumbra' http://wdiy.org/post/page-and-screen-make-peace-mr-penumbra It's been five years since the Amazon Kindle started one of the most enduring literary controversies of recent times: the fight between e-books and printed books. If you're a devoted reader, you're probably already sick of the back and forth between the excitable technophiles and the stubborn Luddites. The proponents of e-books rave about the unexplored avenues, the hypertext, the entire world of literature accessible with just one click. The rest of us — well, we like the way books feel and smell, OK? It might seem sentimental, but that's falling in love for you. Wed, 03 Oct 2012 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 8084 at http://wdiy.org Page And Screen Make Peace In 'Mr. Penumbra'