Author: Benjamin Rybeck

Further Joy by John Brandon

Within the last couple months, a handful of complex fictional works have traveled to the kinds of rural locations that erudite artists often leave behind, and have dug around in unpaved parking lots and browsed broken-down thrift stores. These works—among them Mike Harvkey’s In the Course of Human Read more...

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American Innovations by Rivka Galchen

Rivka Galchen tells stories about characters who obsess over strangers; who cling to things that may not be real; who see patterns where patterns don’t necessarily exist; who invoke science as an almost supernatural force, carrying with it the power to alter lives. Her 2008 debut novel, Atmospheric Read more...

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And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass

In 2002, Julia Glass won the National Book Award for Three Junes, a rare accomplishment for a debut novel. Reading that book twelve years later, it feels very much of its time, its kin consisting of other early-aughts award-winners that plumbed family strife with a genealogist’s precision (e.g., The Read more...

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During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase

Once in a while, a serious reader of fiction has to grapple with a depressing question: how the hell has a great book been forgotten? In the case of Joan Chase and During the Reign of the Queen of Persia, it seems a matter of timing. First published in 1983, Chase’s debut novel inhabits farm-life with Read more...

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Vernon Downs by Jaime Clarke

Some authors everybody has an opinion about. For instance, remember that controversial writer from the early 90s? You know the one. He wrote that satirical novel about the yuppie executive who moonlights as a serial killer—who plays Whitney Houston for his victims (usually women) before swinging his Read more...

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A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies by Douglas Watson

If you tell me that Douglas Watson isn’t the nicest person alive, I won’t believe you. A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies exudes warmth and love—toward its characters and toward its readers—in each of its 170 pages. But the good feelings extend beyond the story itself. In his “Acknowledgments,” Read more...

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Being Dead in South Carolina by Jacob White

In Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Warren Beatty’s John McCabe—with all his roughness and maundering—grumbles, “I got poetry in me,” an assertion with which nobody around him seems to agree. This dialogue kept running through my head while I read Being Dead in South Carolina, Jacob Read more...

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Best Adapted Screenplays – Philomena

This is part 5 of Benjamin Rybeck’s coverage of the Best Adapted Screenplay nominees at the 86th Academy Awards. Full spoilers follow. “Philomena is the extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman.” Actress Judi Dench writes these well-meaning words in the foreword to the movie tie-in edition Read more...

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Best Adapted Screenplays – 12 Years a Slave

This is part 4 of Benjamin Rybeck’s coverage of the Best Adapted Screenplay nominees at the 86th Academy Awards. Full spoilers follow. The adaptation of Twelve Years a Slave—the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery—is remarkable, the result of numerous artists Read more...

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