Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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NY1 teams with contributors from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and Essence Magazine to review the latest books and book-related trends.

The Book Reader: "Life After Life," "All That Is"

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Andrew Losowsky of The Huffington Post reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in NY1's newest living segment, "The Book Reader."

One of the tricky parts of being a fiction writer is deciding what happens to your characters. In "Life After Life", Kate Atkinson has managed not only to have her cake and eat it, but to devour an entire chain of bakeries in the process.

Whenever her protagonist, Ursula Todd, dies, she starts her life over, guided by a vague sense of deja vu to improve things each time. Born in England in 1910, her life encompasses both World Wars, encounters with Hitler - at least in some of her various lives - and events both tragic and happy, almost but not quite identical each time.

Imagine Groundhog Day, but as a lyrical reflection on life rather than a comedy. Each of Ursula's deaths, and there are many, made me feel like crying. If there's any justice in the literary world, this gripping novel will be nominated for awards - over and over again.

"Life After Life" is out now in hardback and download from Little, Brown.

Also out this month is "All That Is" by James Salter, available in hardcover and download from Knopf.

Often described as a 'writer's writer', this is the author and Korean War veteran's first novel in more than 30 years. Now aged 87, this book feels like a minor masterpiece from another era.

Though the plot isn't his best, Salter's phrases are so tight, so elegant and effortless without a stray word or comma, that it makes the rest of us feel like we're just grunting and bashing rocks together.

If you love words, you'll fall in love with "All That Is".

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