Michael Schaub http://tspr.org en A Dentist Confronts The Gaping Maw Of Life In 'To Rise Again' http://tspr.org/post/dentist-confronts-gaping-maw-life-rise-again "Pessimism, skepticism, complaint, and outrage," New York dentist Paul O'Rourke explains to his devoutly religious hygienist. "That's why we were put on earth."<p>You won't find that on a motivational poster, of course, but to be fair, O'Rourke — the world-weary protagonist of Joshua Ferris' third novel, <em>To Rise Again at a Decent Hour</em> — comes by his nihilism honestly. His dental practice is a success, but the rest of his life is a shambles. Thu, 26 Jun 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 55544 at http://tspr.org A Dentist Confronts The Gaping Maw Of Life In 'To Rise Again' A Thousand Stories, Brilliantly Collapsed In 'Bulletproof Vest' http://tspr.org/post/thousand-stories-brilliantly-collapsed-bulletproof-vest Maria Venegas' memoir <em>Bulletproof Vest</em> opens with the story of her father's near death at the hands of would-be assassins in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. He's shot while returning home from a bar, collapses near his house, losing blood, dying, until a neighbor happens upon him during a walk. When Maria's sister calls to tell her the news, the young writer doesn't even look up from her lunch menu. "Oh. So, is he dead?" she asks.<p>As it turns out, he's not — but his luck runs out eventually, and he dies on the same stretch of road years later. Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 55124 at http://tspr.org A Thousand Stories, Brilliantly Collapsed In 'Bulletproof Vest' 'Gottland': A Short Book About Stalin's Long Shadow http://tspr.org/post/gottland-short-book-about-stalins-long-shadow It was 50 feet high and 70 feet long, more than 37 million pounds of granite and concrete. It dominated Letná Park in Prague for the seven years it stood. But in 1962, the biggest monument to Josef Stalin in the world was destroyed, after the dictator fell out of ideological favor in Czechoslovakia.<p>"Not a single line about the monument's destruction appears in the [Czechoslovak] press," writes Mariusz Szczygieł. Wed, 28 May 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 53927 at http://tspr.org 'Gottland': A Short Book About Stalin's Long Shadow The 'Wayward And Defiant' Life Of Journalist Rebecca West http://tspr.org/post/wayward-and-defiant-life-journalist-rebecca-west "There is no such thing as conversation," wrote Rebecca West in her story "The Harsh Voice." "It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all." The same could be said for books, as well — even the best histories and biographies are necessarily filtered through the sensibilities of the author and reader, and some of the best literature is the result of those monologues, those stories, intersecting.<p>Lorna Gibb's excellent new biography of the legendary British writer Rebecca West is full of those moments. Sat, 17 May 2014 09:38:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 53339 at http://tspr.org The 'Wayward And Defiant' Life Of Journalist Rebecca West Mitterrand's Taste For 'Intrigue' And Contradiction http://tspr.org/post/mitterrands-taste-intrigue-and-contradiction It's probably a little too pat to say that all successful political careers are marked by contradiction and compromise, though you're not likely to hear many objections to that characterization. Politics is a game of survival, and with a few sadly notable exceptions, unyielding purists seldom make it to the top.<p>As Philip Short demonstrates in his new biography, <em>A Taste for Intrigue,</em> former French President Francois Mitterrand was not one of those exceptions — he was, in a way, the rule that proves the rule. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Michael Schaub 52068 at http://tspr.org Mitterrand's Taste For 'Intrigue' And Contradiction