In the Mail

–> The God of War by Marisa Silver Publishers Weekly


An elegantly observed coming-of-age story steeped in poverty and violence, this novel by the author of No Direction Home offers a poignant and often heartbreaking account of Ares Ramirez. The year is 1978, and 12-year-old Ares has outgrown the cramped trailer in the California desert that he shares with his mother, Laurel, and six-year-old brother, Malcolm. Malcolm has profound developmental disabilities, but Laurel, out of a free-spirited and self-righteous view of motherhood, has only recently (and very reluctantly) allowed Malcolm to get treatment. A horrific childhood accident and encroaching adolescence, meanwhile, fill Ares with a potent and inarticulate anger. In the absence of any outlet for his preoccupation with violence, Ares falls into an uneasy friendship with Kevin, the troubled foster child of Malcolm’s new speech therapist. Conflict with Laurel, her on-again-off-again boyfriend and a small community that will not accept Malcolm, drive Ares into Kevin’s manipulative sway, and Ares will have to choose between protecting his family or embracing the violence building inside him. The characters are painted with compassion and unflinching honesty, and the climax is pithy and consequential.

–> Milt & Marty: The Longest Lasting and Least Successful Comedy Writing Duo in Showbiz History by Tom Leopold and Bob Sand


“Milt and Marty? Eww! Why are you writing about them?”—Catherine O’Hara

“At one point in my career I was working with a partner in a comedy act. Wagonman and Sloyxne wanted to manage us but only if we promised to punctuate each punch line by breaking into the Twist. We graciously declined because a) they scared us and b) we were going for something more sophisticated at he time.” — Fred Willard

“Milt and Marty did a few days’ work on SCTV when I was there but I stopped talking to them the day Marty tried to convince me that Harrison Ford was a third-generation octoroon.” —Martin Short

“I can’t honestly say that Milt and Marty ever made me laugh, but what I learned about pettiness and lying has proved invaluable over the years.” —Christopher Guest, director of Best in Show and A Mighty Wind

–> The Best Place to Be: A Novel in Stories by Lesley Dormen

Publishers Weekly

Each of the eight related stories in Dormen’s accomplished collection offers a snapshot from the scattershot life of Grace Hanford. “Fifty and holding,” a child of divorce from Cleveland, Ohio, with decades of therapy and blind dates behind her, Grace has spent years “dissecting the romantic lives of single women in their twenties and thirties” for Marvelous Woman magazine in New York City. Married to money-manager Richard, Grace has all the trappings of middle-age (the kitchen renovation, the “looming face-lift”) except children of her own (Richard has two from a previous marriage). The first—and best—story, “The Old Economy Husband,” lays out Grace’s life in Greenwich Village, where she’s lived long enough to watch the UPS man go gray. While ghostwriting an etiquette book, she recognizes she has relinquished her earlier theories about love and chosen a man “who made me feel like my fiercest, most clear-hearted twelve-year-old self.” Subsequent stories limn with less panache the transitional periods in Grace’s life: attending Elmira College for Women circa 1964 (“The Secret of Drawing”), quarreling with her younger brother over their dead mother’s effects (“Gladiators”), arranging a reunion with her estranged father (“Curvy”). Dormen’s narrator takes plenty of knocks, making the happiness she finds all the sweeter.

–> Erotomania: A Romance by Francis Levy

Publishers Weekly

James Moran relishes his roommate’s gourmet cooking, helps the homeless and is a sex addict having a wild affair with a woman with whom he has yet to exchange names. The sex, which dominates the first half of the book, leaves James wandering the streets in postcoital amnesia. But just as the sex threatens to overload the story, James decides to establish a real relationship with his lover, and things begin to shift: other vices—from alcohol to abstract expressionism—enter the picture, with disastrous results. The book’s raw but thoughtful carnality comes off as at once serious, clever and crude in sending up the absurdities of contemporary hookings-up. It’s not a traditional love story, but debut novelist Levy puts thought and genuine feeling behind all the doings.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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