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Likely Stories

A Booklist Blog
Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

Archive for August, 2006

Thu, August 31st, 2006
The Trouble with Short Stories
Posted by: Keir Graff

I just filed my reviews of Duane Swierczynski’s The Blonde and Claire Davis’ Labors of the Heart. The Blonde is a collection of short stories that richly evoke the interior lives of people living in small towns of the American West, and Labors of the Heart is about a blonde infected with fast-replicating nanomachines. I mean […]


Tue, August 29th, 2006
Fast-Replicating Nanomachines
Posted by: Keir Graff

Over the weekend I finished reading Duane Swierczynski’s new crime novel, The Blonde. I enjoyed his last one (The Wheel Man, 2005) quite a bit, and I enjoyed this one, too. Both of them are set in Philadelphia, both are fast-moving and funny. But where The Wheel Man explores a heist gone wrong with unpredictable […]


Thu, August 24th, 2006
World War, Three
Posted by: Keir Graff

George Eberhart, a senior editor at American Libraries (and an author himself), e-mailed a contribution to the war books project before I went on vacation and, sluggard that I am, I let it sit in my in-box until now. A few of the titles stray from my “wars with American involvement” criterion, but rules were made to […]


Wed, August 23rd, 2006
Back in the "Office"–at a New Address
Posted by: Keir Graff

Well, if you’re reading this, then you’ve successfully followed the map I left–covered with candle-smoke smudges and “here be treasure” scrawls–at the old blog address. Welcome. I’m so excited to be here that I spent an hour yesterday reclassifying all of my old posts into new categories. Okay, so most of them fall under “Books […]


Fri, August 11th, 2006
Out of the "Office"
Posted by: Keir Graff

Well, I’m not officially at work these days, but for the next ten days I won’t be here, either. I’ll be on vacation in my home state of Montana. I’m taking two books: Lebanon: A House Divided, by Sandra Mackey (seems topical), and Labors of the Heart, by Claire Davis (for review, but seems appropriate, […]


Thu, August 10th, 2006
Unbound Galleys Revisited
Posted by: Keir Graff

I’ve written before about how I don’t really like reviewing from photocopied galleys. Even when they’re bound, the 8½ x 11″ pages are unwieldy. When they’re unbound, I’m always afraid that a sudden gust of wind is going to make me reenact the last scene in The Wonder Boys. (Is that scene in both the […]


Wed, August 9th, 2006
Review Templates
Posted by: Keir Graff

Something I’d meant to add yesterday was that, even though every book is different, the similarities in the way I frame some of the reviews can almost make it feel like I’ve unconsciously created templates for them. There’s the First-Novelist-Shows-Promise template and its twin, Promising-Novelist-Can’t-Deliver-in-Sophomore-Effort. There’s also Usually-Good-Novelist-Isn’t-Quite-So-Good-This-Time. Then there’s Great-Novelist-Is-Great-Once-Again-Making-Us-All-Feel-Somewhat-Inferior. Then there’s I-Don’t-Understand-What-the-Author-Is-Trying-to-Say, and […]


Tue, August 8th, 2006
The Review Remains the Same
Posted by: Keir Graff

Last night I finished reading Bleeding Hearts, by Ian Rankin, and just now I drafted my review. I’m trying to work quickly, because I never know when my four-month-old will wake up. Bleeding Hearts is not the latest Inspector Rebus novel. Like Blood Hunt (2006) and Witch Hunt (2004), it’s a first U.S. edition of […]


Fri, August 4th, 2006
Back to War
Posted by: Keir Graff

A little while ago, while reading Jarhead, I started a list of books that “say something about the experience of war and its aftermath.” It’s not a subject area in which I’m well read, but I received some helpful suggestions both in the comments to that post and via e-mail. Brad Hooper, who studied history […]


Thu, August 3rd, 2006
More Bewildered, More Innocent, and More Welsh
Posted by: Keir Graff

I was going to sit down and write about how I was able to finish four reviews today because my three-month-old, whose naps are usually short and unpredictable, snoozed the morning away. But then he just spent the last hour having an inexplicable (to me, anyway, probably not to him) screaming fit. The baby giveth, […]





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