A stranger comes to town—and opens a bowling alley—in Elizabeth McCracken’s Bowlaway

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In Elizabeth McCracken’s novel Bowlaway, the recently widowed Dr. Leviticus Sprague writes a biography of his wife, Bertha Truitt, and sends it to a publisher. His work is rejected and sent back with “an irritated note: yes, yes, but to what end?” It’s a similar sentiment to the one expressed in the first pages of…

In the zombie apocalypse of Ling Ma’s Severance, the real monsters are the living

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In an early chapter of Ling Ma’s debut novel, Severance, a genre-savvy character details the difference between vampire and zombie stories. “With vampire narrative, the danger lies in the villain’s intentions, his underlying character. There are good vampires, there are bad vampires… [The zombie narrative is] not…

The A.V. Club’s favorite books of 2017

Something about this year made reading books feel not just crucial, but a little bit transgressive. Maybe it’s the assault on education and freedom of the press, or maybe it’s just that between reading new reports of abusive men and Trump’s latest attempt to chokehold the nation, simply reading for pleasure feels…

Thanks, Obama takes readers back to a White House when the president was funny, not a joke

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David Litt thought Donald Trump had been firmly defeated in 2011. Litt worked on Barack Obama’s monologue for that year’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, which included a section lambasting the leader of the birther movement. He wrote about his experience watching those jokes delivered as part of his…

The author of Silver Linings Playbook brings modern politics to his latest dysfunctional family story

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Dysfunctional families are Matthew Quick’s specialty, and the latest novel from the author of The Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t deviate from that focus. The Reason You’re Alive deals with the impact of PTSD, depression, and adultery on a Philadelphia family, but also zooms in on the especially sharp divides created…

The Impossible Fortress both celebrates and subverts ’80s nostalgia and rom-com tropes

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It’s a good thing that The Impossible Fortress is such a fast and easy read, because it would be all too easy to abandon it during the book’s bumpy start. Set in 1987, the first few pages of Jason Rekulak’s debut novel are nearly as laden with nostalgic references as Ernest Cline’s books. Rekulak introduces his…

Our favorite games of 2016, part 2

Every December, instead of searching for a group consensus, Gameological looks back at the year in games through individual perspectives. These are the staffers’ personal takes on a few games that have stuck in their minds for whatever reason—big or small—and does not represent any sort of institutional expression.…