Joan Baum

Hell Gate – a narrow tidal strait in the East River in New York is well-named because of its powerful and dangerous currents. In 1904 the steamship General Slocum caught fire in the strait and sank, taking down well over 1,000 souls. The worst single-event loss of life in this country until 9/11.

In his new novel “The Underground Railroad,” Colson Whitehead reimagines a sick and savage period in American history and proves once again that fine fiction immersed in historical facts can often be more truthful – and more powerful – than nonfiction.

If you’ve never had the pleasure – and challenge – of reading the witty, trenchant cultural criticism of Arthur Krystal, who’s been called “the George Clooney of the essay world,” you might start with his new collection, “This Thing We Call Literature.” The Clooney reference fits because Krystal’s prose is confident, seductive.

Book Review: Guy Novel

Aug 29, 2016

What a wild, weird romp award-winning poet and memoirist Michael Ryan pulls off in his debut fiction, “Guy Novel.” Fast-mouth Robert Wilder, a stand-up comic in L.A. is just hours away from getting married, when he stops off at a bank to get money for his honeymoon in Baja. Waiting in line, he spies a gorgeous young woman teller, and, on impulse, offers to drive her home when a raging rainstorm forces the bank to close. He never makes it to his wedding, but he does make it to Baja – with the woman, Sabine.

Book Review: Clamour Of Crows

Jul 12, 2016

Forget Voldemort, Satan, Dr. No, Iago. Fictional villains these days slither out of Wall Street. Hedge fund honchos without conscience, these evil avatars manipulate Dark Money...because they can. Although Ray Merritt says that his debut novel “Clamour of Crows” is fiction, and that the book’s greedy corporate lawyers and shady CEOs do not represent the associates and clients he knew at his former law firm, he surely knows that his mystery novel about big time law, “Law,” reflects real-life bad guys.