Tag Archives: first novel

The Disquiet of a Marriage Amid the Apocalypse: ‘California’ by Edan Lepucki

It can be argued that the post-apocalyptic science fiction novel was invented in California. Although there had been such end-of-days precursors as Mary Shelley’s The Last Man or E.M. Forster’s story “The Machine Stops” (and even the novel The Scarlet Plague by Oakland’s own Jack London), it was Earth Abides, published in 1949 by University of California English professor George R. Stewart, that established many of the tropes associated with doomsday novels, ranging from Stephen King’s The Stand to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Stewart’s novel follows geography grad student Isherwood “Ish” Williams after he recovers from a snakebite-induced coma in the …Continue reading

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Having It All, and Nothing to Show For It: Christine Sneed’s ‘Little Known Facts’

The obsession with celebrity is arguably more intense today than it has ever been before. In the millennial years, the somewhat nebulous concept of fame has been democratized, intensified, and extended to those outside of the film and television industries of Hollywood. Yet despite the elevation of everyday people to the status of public figures, the hierarchical nature of celebrity continues to privilege movie stars above all else, using their fame and talent as the benchmark against which all others are judged. Exploring celebrity through this lens, Christine Sneed’s novel, Little Known Facts (Bloomsbury, 304 pages), tells the story of …Continue reading

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Fancy Takes Flight in ‘Stamboul’

In The Oracle of Stamboul (Harpers; 304 pages), a flock of hoopoes (the Eurasian bird known for its colorful, showy Mohawk) watches over Elenora, the story’s heroine. The birds, which coat “the town like frosting” upon Elenora’s birth, are the initial hint that something supernatural – perhaps even prophetic – is afoot in Michael David Lukas’s ultimately winning first novel.

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