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In Maggie Nelson’s “Bluets,” her 2009 collection of poems on grief and loss, loneliness is “solitude with a problem.” Which is a useful way of understanding loneliness. Being alone and feeling lonely are not always the same thing. Except, of course, it’s complicated. Emily Dickinson wondered: Was loneliness “the maker of the soul”? Or its “seal”? Does loneliness define you? Or exacerbate ...

The worst of the heat has dissipated (at least for now? Please?), which means we can all stop complaining about the weather and turn our attention to summer reading. Here are six new paperbacks, all potentially compelling choices for lazy afternoons. "Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery" by Erica C. Barnett (Penguin, $17). The debut book from Seattle journalist Barnett ...

CHICAGO — Charles Johnson has one of those careers, you know the kind, the ones where you start out at the Chicago Tribune as a political cartoonist, turn Buddhist and philosopher, make a huge splash as a novelist, win the National Book Award, grow so revered that literary societies are founded in your name, host a national PBS show for a decade, land a MacArthur “genius” grant, receive early ...

FICTION: This luminous multigenerational story follows people whose lives are ripped in two by the Partition of India. "The Parted Earth" by Anjali Enjeti; Hub City Press (272 pages, $26) ——— When an entire society experiences upheaval and loss on an unprecedented scale, what are the ways this loss shows up in individual relationships, in families, and communities throughout generations? This ...

This column is a tale of three novels, all bought in local bookstores during Independent Bookstore Day (which was actually Independent Bookstore 10 Days) back in April. I didn't realize how these three books were connected when I picked them up; now, having happily made my way through all three, I see them as a trio of examples of how broad the category of "crime fiction" can be — and how very ...

Not so long ago, probably on one of those dark-gray nights when the rain sounds like a persistent solicitor tap-tap-tapping at your door, a reader emailed me with a question: Could I recommend a good, noirish mystery novel set in the Pacific Northwest? Knowing that the reading power of a crowd is far better than that of an individual (and also being very good at dodging hard questions, like a ...

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"The Plot" by Jean Hanff Korelitz; Celadon Books (336 pages, $28) ——— “Where did you get the idea for your book?” If you’ve ever been to an author event or a book signing, you’ve heard that question. If you’re a published author, you’ve heard it many, many times. For some authors, it’s welcome and flattering. For others, it provokes an inner eye roll. But the follow-up can make authors ...

“Swimming to Freedom: My Escape From China and the Cultural Revolution” by Kent Wong; Harry N. Abrams (320 pages, $26) ——— China was in chaos. For a decade, Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution deliberately smashed society to bits. People were sent away for brutal re-education. Others simply disappeared. The country was destroying itself, and for many, only one hope remained: Getting out. ...

Anytime Elissa Washuta thought she was holding back or not using her true voice while writing and editing her new book “White Magic,” she channeled the energy of the creator of the cult classic TV show “Twin Peaks.” “If I ever felt like doing something safe, I’d think, ‘If David Lynch was allowed to make ‘Twin Peaks’ Season 3 as he did for Showtime, surely I can have a little bit of a time ...

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