Archive - September 17, 2013

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And You Think You Get Bad Reviews!
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A Writer Writes: The Lost Volunteer

And You Think You Get Bad Reviews!

September 16, 2013 Gazing Into Their Past Through Their Bellybuttons By MICHIKO KAKUTANI SUBTLE BODIES By Norman Rush 236 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95. The premise of this tiresome new novel by the critically acclaimed author Norman Rush sounds as if it had been lifted straight from “The Big Chill”: a group of now middle-aged college friends reunite to commemorate the death of one of their own. The result not only lacks that movie’s humor and groovy soundtrack but is also an eye-rollingly awful read. The novel’s preening, self-absorbed characters natter on endlessly about themselves in exchanges that sound more like outtakes from a dolorous group therapy session than like real conversations among longtime friends. Its title, “Subtle Bodies” – which refers to people’s “true interior selves,” whatever that means – is a perfect predictor of the novel’s solipsistic tone. Readers given to writing comments in their books are likely . . .

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A Writer Writes: The Lost Volunteer

The Lost Volunteer Whatever happened to Jim King? by Bob Criso (Nigeria & Somalia 1966-68) In the past, I spent a lot of time searching for Jim King, eager to talk with him about the last intense days that we spent together in Biafra. Jim was stationed at Macgregor Teacher Training College in Afikpo, about an hours ride from my house in Ishiagu on my Honda 50. When the war was heating up in the spring of ’67, Peace Corps Enugu gave me a van and a list of people to pick up in case of an emergency evacuation. Jim was on that list and I picked him up during the last-minute rush to leave the country. Jim, a tall, wiry, blond guy with glasses, was on the Peace Corps “whereabouts unknown” list for years. His family had moved from his last Altadena, California address while he was in Nigeria. . . .

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