reviewed by Kelly Fordon
January 13th, 2015 | 7:00am

Fans of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s first short-story collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, which appeared in 2012, have been looking forward to her second collection ever since. The premise of Bergman’s new book, Almost Famous Women, is immediately intriguing. Bergman culled through the annals of history to locate women who brushed up against fame, thanks to proximity to famous people or now-forgotten accomplishments. Publisher’s Weekly commended her for this “feminist reclamation” of narratives largely ignored; a compilation of 13 fictionalized tales of women including James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia; Butterfly McQueen, the actress who played Prissy in “Gone with the Wind”; Allegra Byron, Lord Byron’s cast-off daughter; and Dolly Wilde, Oscar Wilde’s impetuous, drug-addled, niece.

reviewed by Francesca de Onis
January 8th, 2015 | 7:00am

A bee
Staggers out
Of the peony.

Richard Flanagan’s new novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, begins with an enigmatic haiku by Basho, a 17th century Japanese poet, which evokes a state of sublime consummation or mortal exhaustion, in other words, how love and war, beauty and horror are inextricably entwined.

Photo by author
January 7th, 2015 | 7:00am

Photo by author

I expect the countless eyes and cameras that have adored this place to have dulled it. But I see all colors in the desert; and they’re not tainted, as far as I can tell. I try to learn the terms and reasons for why it became the way it is. I don’t forget one name—desert varnish: the volcanic gleam over rusty red cliffs, as if spread by palette knife—and I repeat it in my head every time I pass it.

Photo by author
January 6th, 2015 | 10:00am

Diane Cook’s debut short-story collection Man V. Nature was recently published by HarperCollins. The New York Times called it a book of “great beauty and strangeness.” Cook is a former producer on NPR’s “This American Life” and a graduate of the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University. She currently lives in Oakland, California where she is at work on a novel. S. Tremaine Nelson talked with Cook about writing “unnerving stories, her least favorite author, and the many perks of novel writing.

January 2nd, 2015 | 7:00am

To go from inspiration to the completion of a work of art or literature or architecture is a voyage in the dark. Artists smuggle intuitions from a place beyond words into achievements the public can regard and appreciate or not. This voyage fascinates the Italian architect Matteo Pericoli, author of the new book Windows on the World, which collects 50 of his drawings published over recent years by The Paris Review. Strong, solid lines render rooms around the world, rooms where every day the likes of Orhan Pamuk, Teju Cole, Francisco Goldman, and others sit down to do their writing. In Pericoli’s drawings, the architectural feature of the window frames a writer’s consciousness.