Heller McAlpin http://weku.fm en 'Empathy Exams' Is A Virtuosic Manifesto Of Human Pain http://weku.fm/post/empathy-exams-virtuosic-manifesto-human-pain A boyfriend once called Leslie Jamison "a wound dweller." This is one of many personal morsels she shares in her virtuosic book of essays, <em>The Empathy Exams,</em> in which she intrepidly probes sore spots to explore how our reactions to both our own pain and that of others define us as human beings. Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 57712 at http://weku.fm 'Empathy Exams' Is A Virtuosic Manifesto Of Human Pain In 'Sprinkler,' A Wacky Poet Returns With New Obsessions http://weku.fm/post/sprinkler-wacky-poet-returns-new-obsessions Nicholson Baker has become a sort of poet of the particular and the peculiar. His books are filled with people who focus minutely on what captivates them – in other words, obsessives. A positive way of looking at obsession is as passion taken to an extreme. Tue, 17 Sep 2013 14:06:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 50147 at http://weku.fm In 'Sprinkler,' A Wacky Poet Returns With New Obsessions 'The Astral': A Tedious Ode To Breaking Up http://weku.fm/post/astral-tedious-ode-breaking Kate Christensen's sixth novel, <em>The Astral</em>, charts the long and whining road toward a new life for Harry Quirk, a down-and-out poet whose fierce, staunchly Catholic wife of 30 years has thrown him out of their home in the legendary Astral apartment building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Convinced that Harry has been cheating on her with his recently widowed best friend, Luz has gone ballistic. Thu, 09 Jun 2011 14:05:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 5964 at http://weku.fm 'The Astral': A Tedious Ode To Breaking Up An Amazon Adventure, Replete With Love, 'Wonder' http://weku.fm/post/amazon-adventure-replete-love-wonder Ann Patchett, who held readers captive with <em>Bel Canto</em>, her 2001 novel about a famous opera singer and a group of international dignitaries taken hostage by Latin American terrorists, is back in form with her mesmerizing sixth novel, <em>State of Wonder</em>. Mon, 06 Jun 2011 10:00:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 5641 at http://weku.fm An Amazon Adventure, Replete With Love, 'Wonder' Gertrude Stein's Silly — And Stilted — 'To Do' http://weku.fm/post/gertrude-steins-silly-%E2%80%94-and-stilted-%E2%80%94-do Literary wags love to point out the blunders of short-sighted editors of yore who, failing to recognize genius, took a pass on such later-acknowledged masterpieces as James Joyce's <em>Ulysses, </em>Dr. Seuss' <em>And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street </em>and John Kennedy Toole's <em>A Confederacy of Dunces</em>. What we hear less about are the initially — and perhaps deservedly — rejected manuscripts that later ride into print on the coattails of their author's renown. Wed, 01 Jun 2011 14:14:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 5241 at http://weku.fm Gertrude Stein's Silly — And Stilted — 'To Do' Muddled Love Aboard 'The London Train' http://weku.fm/post/muddled-love-aboard-london-train "Love is a kind of comfortable pretense ... muffling everyone's separation from one another, which is absolute." So thinks the disenchanted 35-year-old woman who has left her stalwart, workaholic older husband in the second half of Tessa Hadley's diptych of a novel, <em>The London Train.</em><p>Like her earlier books, which include <em>The Master Bedroom</em> (2007)<em> </em>and the same year's <em>Sunstroke and Other Stories</em> (four of which first appeared in <em>The New Yorker</em>), <em>The London Train </em>brings a quiet, nuanced intelligence to domestic fiction. Mon, 23 May 2011 11:00:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 4453 at http://weku.fm Muddled Love Aboard 'The London Train' Julian Barnes Finds The 'Pulse' Of Heartache http://weku.fm/post/julian-barnes-finds-pulse-heartache In Julian Barnes' last book, essays on death called <em>Nothing to Be Frightened Of</em>, he wrote of fearing the nothingness or oblivion of death. In <em>Pulse,</em> his understated but stealthily moving third collection of stories, Barnes' main focus is on love and intimacy — how it starts, and what accounts for its endurance or failure to thrive. Many of his characters suffer the loss of one of their five senses, or of a close relationship.<p>In the title story, a 30-year-old only son contrasts his own dismal marriage to his parents' long, happy attachment. Thu, 05 May 2011 11:00:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 2933 at http://weku.fm Julian Barnes Finds The 'Pulse' Of Heartache 'My New American Life': An Immigrant Nanny Drama http://weku.fm/post/my-new-american-life-immigrant-nanny-drama American literature is full of earnest, heartfelt novels about the immigrant experience. Often, as in Ha Jin's <em>A Free Life</em> and Jhumpa Lahiri's <em>The Namesake, </em>these books shed light on what it means to be American by focusing on families awkwardly straddling two cultures, the old one left behind and the new, bewildering melting pot into which the younger generation are more rapidly assimilated than their parents.<p>Francine Prose's 16<sup>th</sup> book of fiction, <em>My New American Life</em>, takes an unusually lighthearted approach to the immigrant novel. Wed, 27 Apr 2011 14:13:00 +0000 Heller McAlpin 2351 at http://weku.fm 'My New American Life': An Immigrant Nanny Drama