Only two books into what one hopes will become a lengthy series, Sara Gran (a longtime bookseller at NYC’s The Strand) achieves a great feat in creating an authentic new voice for an old genre. Her detective, Claire DeWitt, is contemporary and soulful, a gender-queer seeker of truth and defender of innocents whose tragic adolescence as a Lower East Side punk leads her to stumble eventually into training in a mystic cult of philosophical detectives. The vivid, purposeful settings explore a contemporary American experience, ranging from the desolation of post-Katrina New Orleans to the secretive, privileged power-brokering of the Bohemian Club in Marin County, California, and both books come with killer soundtracks and crisp, sly writing. You won’t want them to end. You’ll wait impatiently for the next one.
Don’t have enough minutes, let alone hours, in a day to read all the significant, culture-shaping, frame-of-reference-expanding, sensibility-refining literary journals out there? I hear ya. As a temporary but satisfying solution, try this anthology of essays culled by its editors from five years of The Bomb, the journal founded by McSweeney’s publisher and literary guru Dave Eggers. Relish these hip, arresting, and emotionally intelligent works by some of our most eloquent contemporary writers—just scan the book’s cover design to discover their names. As Park admits in the introduction, the thinking in many of these essays is often more original, arresting, and entertaining than the eclectic, sometimes oddball, works they examine.