September 18, 2017

Way back in 2008, Nick Harkaway published his first novel, The Gone-Away World. This coming January his newest novel, Gnomon, will be available in the U.S., although it’ll be available in Great Britain in November and I’m seriously considering ordering it from there, since I don’t think I can wait until January.  Until then, though, I’m thinking I might reread all three...

September 4, 2017

Although Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar is one of my all-time favorite books, I stopped reading him when he fell into what seemed to me to be an interminable bad mood--somewhat ironically, along about Happy Isles of Oceania, I think, in 1993, so it’s been quite a while since I picked up a Theroux travel narrative. But a friend recommended his Dark Star Safari (H...

September 3, 2017


I've been doing a lot of revisiting old favorites while counting down the days until my novel George & LIzzie comes out, and rereading Jedediah Berry’s The Manual of Detection (Penguin, 2009) was a great pleasure. It's one of those peculiar and intriguing novels that are showing up with rather more frequency these days than they used to be. Describing it isn't easy. Ber...

June 30, 2017

Renee Patrick is the pen name for husband-and-wife team Rosemarie and Vince Keenan. This is their first novel. In 1937, a young woman named Lillian Frost comes to Hollywood to make her fortune. She's very beautiful, and like many girls at that time, she wants to be discovered by some famous director who sits next to her at a soda fountain. Then, one of her former roommat...

June 29, 2017

Check out book reviews from Nancy posted on the NPR Books page.

In the fall of 2004, Morning Edition’s Steve Inskeep and I talked about great first lines, and one of the books I cited was Rose Macauley’s The Towers of Trebizond (Farrar, Straus, 2012).  Rose Macauley loved three things above all others: Anglicanism, travel, and animals.  Her first line reflects all three of these.  Here it is:

“Take my camel, dear,”...

September 28, 2011

Ben Fountain ’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco, 2012) is a brilliantly conceived first novel that takes place over the course of one day. It’s the story of 19-year-old Billy Lynn, a member of Bravo Squad, a group of soldiers who, fresh from winning a firefight in Iraq that’s made them media darlings, are brought back to the U.S. for two weeks for a “victory tour”...

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