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Kevin's Picks

Create Your Own Religion
Create Your Own Religion: A How-to Book Without Instructions
By Daniele Bolelli
2013

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This book destroys in order to create. Bolelli demands that we question all of our core beliefs so that we can build a new spiritual structure free from dogma and cant. Even if you don't buy into the whole 'put together your own religion' focus of the book, Bolelli is still great at identifying and explaining the tenets of a wide variety of established creeds, so it's fascinating on that level alone. (Oh, and one more thing: He's really humorous as well!)


Critical Mass
Critical Mass: Four Decades of Essays, Reviews, Hand Grenades, and Hurrahs
By James Wolcott
2013

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Wolcott writes criticism in the rakish, populist, take-no-prisoners style of his mentors Pauline Kael and Norman Mailer. He's witty and clever enough to be worth reading even when you have little interest in the specific subject matter ( I'm looking at you Punk Rock) and positively revelatory when you do (film noir, television, and the Great American Novel.)

 


 

Dangerous Women
Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
2013

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A collection of 21 original stories featuring some of the most awesome, terrifying, powerful, seductive heroines and villainesses ever to stalk this or any other earth.

 

The Double

The Double
By George Pelecanos
2013

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Iraq war veteran Spero Lucas carries on the Knight Errant (for hire) tradition of Travis McGee in another sally forth in defense of those too weak to fend for themselves in a world without mercy. Pelecanos...who's written for The Wire and other awardwinning television series...deepens his saga with genuine emotion and thought but never at the expense of action and suspense. 

 

Furious Cool
Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and The World That Made Him
By David and Joe Henry
2013

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Richard Pryor was no ordinary man or garden-variety standup comic so it's only fitting that his biography would be far from standard fare as well. Furious Cool is a collage of scenes and incidents from Pryor's remarkable life that has all the poetry and tragedy of the best of its subjects monologues.


The Humans
The Humans
By Matt Haig
2013

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An alien visitor to Earth wants nothing more than to complete his mission of conquest and return home where he can forget all about his time among the disgusting human species. Then something strange and beautiful happens: In the guise of Prof. Andrew Martin, the alien begins to discover that it may very well be Humanity's 'messiness' that makes it worthwhile. The Humans uses the otherworldy perspective of the best SF to examine themes and characters more often found only in topnotch literary fiction.

 

The Kings and Queens of Roam
The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America
By Gregg Easterbrook
2013

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Easterbrook is a sports journalist who writes 'outside the box' in the tradition of Malcom Gladwell and the founders of Freakonomics. Here he tackles the influence Football has had on the nation as it's become the new America's Game over the past 20 years. You may think you know this story already but the way Easterbrook tells it is fresh, vital, and filled with startling insights.

 

Men in Miami Hotels

Men in Miami Hotels
By Charlie Smith
2013

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Just for the heck of it, Cot Sims decides to make off with a load of gems belonging to a vicious gangster. Then he has to return them or risk losing everybody he loves. Charlie Smith writes literary crime novels that bristle with prose that's every bit as bright and pure as the stones his hero pilfers, and he may just be the one true heir to the late Elmore Leonard.

 

Norman Mailer: A Double Life

 


Norman Mailer: A Double Life
By J. Michael Lennon
2013

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A huge book (960 pages) befitting its oversize subject: a man of well known egoism, talent (perhaps genius), and action. While never skimping on the details of Mailer's personal life...a stabbing, multiple literary feuds and multiple wives...Lennon's biography is most memorable in the way it frees Mailer the Writer from this private baggage and reminds us of what a truly great artist he often was. 

 

Red Country
Red Country
By Joe Abercrombie
2012

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Abercrombie writes down-and-dirty fantasy in the style of Geore R.R. Martin but with a wit and panache that's all his own. This one is a Spaghetti Western set in a Sword-and-Sorcery world that's peopled with unforgettable characters who speak in a kind of laconic wit that will keep you grinning amidst the carnage and chaos. It might seem strange to term a book this violent both 'warm' and 'humanistic' but that's exactly the case. It's Abercrombie's finest work to date and the one in which he's found his true voice.

 

 

 


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February 21, 2014

 
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