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15 october 2017

I live near the epicenter of wild-boar panic in the United States. Boar roam the parks of my home city (Arlington, Texas) and indeed much of my vast home state. But I have never run across a wild boar; you are much likelier to see a coyote or a bobcat in these parts. To a large extent, that's because wild boar, as Dorothy Yamamoto observes in her new book on the beasts, are shy and nocturnal creatures – and though omnivores, are not very likely to leap your backyard fence and attack your pets.     read more

12 october 2017

Most novels feature a disclaimer of some sort on the reverse of their title pages or elsewhere: all is imaginary, if I've hit on the truth it's a coincidence. But Joseph Bialot's La station Saint-Martin est fermée au public bears this note: "Ce récit est tiré d'une histoire vraie [This account is drawn from a true story]."     read more

11 october 2017

"Je lis. C'est comme une maladie," Agota Kristof begins her wafer-thin memoir L'analphabète: I read. It's like a sickness.

I can relate; I've been posting my symptoms here for fourteen years now. Some people are sick this way, and the illness tends to be incurable.     read more

9 october 2017

I was led to 120, rue de la Gare by Andrea Goulet's Legacies of the Rue Morgue. Though Goulet's book pointed straight to Léo Malet's, it took me a year and a half to follow her directions. I was delighted when I did; 120, rue de la Gare is an early hybrid of private-eye noir and consulting-detective cozy. In 1943, Malet knew his models but did not feel constrained by generic formulas in the way that later writers might have. The result was a detective novel of great panache.     read more