This is happening sooner than I would have liked, but I’m sad to say that this will be the last post on Live Nude Books.  It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who has regularly—or even periodically—checked back: I haven’t posted a review in over seven months, and I haven’t been updating the blog with news or updates on any consistent basis.  Still, I planned on continuing.

At this point in my life, I’m not able to juggle this blog with teaching full time (it’s new to me), working on my own writing, and having a personal life.  Maybe in the future, I will learn to manage my time more effectively.  Until that happens, I will leave this site up, since some of the old reviews and interviews still get hits.

Speaking of which: I would like to thank all of the writers who were kind enough to answer my questions, as well as those who were unable to but responded graciously (this accounts for all of the writers whose books I reviews on this site).  To the publishers who sent me ARC copies for some of the reviews I wrote, and to the people from other book blogs and presses who showed me their support: a huge thank you for all you did for my self-esteem!  Finally, I would like to thank anyone who has checked out this site; I really appreciate you stopping by!

Before I go, I would like to mention three books that are definitely worth checking out.  I had planned on writing reviews for each title, but that was before I got an offer to teach for the Summer Term.  These were not ARC books; I purchased and read them, and I believe in their worth.  If you’re looking for a novel, memoir, and/or young adult story to read, then here are some titles you should look into.

The Bird Sisters, by Rebecca Rasmussen (Crown Publishers)

This impressive debut novel chronicles the summer that slowly tore a family apart, while also providing glimpses into the lives of the two sisters—Twiss and Milly—half a century later.  While they remain bonded to each other after all this time, these two have a polar history together—one that is not commonly known to their neighbors, the details of which have been kept from each other, too.


The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twenty-Something Survived a Year in Iraq, by Bronson Lemer (University of Wisconsin Press)

In his debut memoir, Bronson Lemer reflects on the final stretch of his military service, when his unit is sent to Iraq.  While serving his country abroad, he is asked to suppress his identity in order to adhere to a political policy.  Lemer doesn’t write with a bitter tone; instead, the prose in this memoir reveals longing—not only a longing to be himself, but also one that allows him to connect with others who shares a common understanding.


Stupid Fast, by Geoff Herbach (Source Books Fire)

Felton Reinstein’s body is changing.  So’s his attitude.  While this teenager begins to grasp the reality of his newly developed athleticism and the friends that come with it, he finds himself at odds with his mother, his brother, and his usual friends.  This YA novel covers familiar territory: the confusion and angst that teenage boys experience as their minds and bodies hit that final growth spurt.  This novel takes a turn from the ordinary coming-of-age story when Felton begins to learn the truth about his father.


Hope to write to you again, soon!

Photo by Danielle Kantrowitz

From the book jacket:

Rebecca Rasmussen teaches creative writing and literature at Fontbonne University.  Her stories have appeared in Triquarterly magazine and Mid-American Review.  She was a finalist in both Narrative magazine’s 30 Below contest for writers under the age of 30 and in Glimmer Train‘s Family Matters contest. She lives with her husband and daughter in St. Louis.  [The Bird Sisters] is her first novel.

To read Rebecca Rasmussen’s essay on writing a novel (posted on Cathy Day’s blog), click here.

Enough About Love by Hervé Le Tellier (2/1/2011)
The London Train by Tessa Hadley (2/7/2011)
I Think Again of Those Ancient Chinese Poets by Tom Sexton (2/15/2011)
The Book of Men by Dorianne Laux (2/28/2011)
Space, In Chains by Laura Kasischke (3/15/2011)
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell (3/22/2011)
Invisible Strings by Jim Moore (3/29/2011)
The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry (editor) Ilan Stavans (3/29/2011)
In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard (4/25/2011)
Fall Higher by Dean Young (4/26/2011)
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (5/3/2011)
Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner (5/17/2011)
Long Drive Home by Will Allison (5/17/2011)
They Could No Longer Contain Themselves: A Collection of Five Flash Chapbooks by Elizabeth J. Colen, John Jodzio, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Sean Lovelace, and Mary Miller (5/18/2011)
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (5/31/2011)
To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal (6/2/2011)
The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture by David Mamet (6/2/2011)
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (6/7/2011)
A Thousand Pearls (for a Thousand Pennies) by Hervé Le Tellier (7/19/2011)
The Sextine Chapel by Hervé Le Tellier (7/19/2011)

The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen (4/12/2011)
Good Poems, American Places by Garrison Keillor (4/14/2011)
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace (4/15/2011)
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips (4/19/2011)
My New American Life by Francine Prose (4/26/2011)
The Great Night by Chris Adrian (4/26/2011)
Prayer and Parable by Paul Maliszewski (5/1/2011)
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson (5/3/2011)
Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives by Robert Thacker (5/3/2011)
Faith by Jennifer Haigh (5/10/2011)
Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin (5/10/2011)
2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America by Albert Brooks (5/10/2011)
I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle (5/12/2011)
In This Light: New and Selected Stories by Melanie Rae Thon (5/24/2011)
Orientation: And Other Stories by Daniel Orozco (5/24/2011)
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (6/1/2011)
My American Unhappiness by Dean Bakopoulis (6/7/2011)
The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq by Bronson Lemer (6/8/2011)
Between the Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches, 1998-2003 by Roberto Bolaño (6/28/2011)

Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York by Ariel Sabar (1/11/2011)
Panorama by H.G. Adler (1/18/2011)
The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard (1/25/2011)
An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorjan (1/31/2011)
The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya (1/31/2011)
Swamplandia by Karen Russell (2/1/2011)
The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier (2/1/2011)
Ship of Fool by William Trowbridge (2/1/2011)
Widow by Michelle Latiolais (2/1/2011)
Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence by Elizabeth Bishop and Joelle Biele (Ed.) (2/1/2011)
Poems by Elizabeth Bishop (2/1/2011)
Prose by Elizabeth Bishop (2/1/2011)
Enough About Love by Hervé Le Tellier (2/1/2011)
The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah (2/1/2011)
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale (2/2/2011)
Open City by Teju Cole (2/8/2011)
We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen (2/9/2011)
Wrecker by Summer Wood (2/15/2011)
The Old Romantic by Louise Dean (2/17/2011)
Portraits of a Marriage by Sándor Márai (2/22/2011)
When the Killing’s Done by T.C. Boyle (2/22/2011)
At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing by George Kimball (Ed.) and John Schulian (Ed.) (3/3/2011)
When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley (3/8/2011)
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (3/8/2011)

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Leviathan (1/4/2011)
Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx (1/4/2011)
Losing Graceland by Micah Nathan (1/4/2011)
Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery and Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates (1/7/2011)
Gryphon: New and Selected Stories by Charles Baxter (1/11/2011)
Night Soul and Other Stories by Joseph McElroy (1/11/2011)
Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories by Edith Pearlman (1/11/2011)
Caribou Island by David Vann (1/18/2011)
The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins (1/18/2011)
You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon (1/20/2011)
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (1/20/2011)
J.D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski (1/25/2011)
The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman (1/25/2011)
The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor (2/11/2011)
A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates (2/15/2011)

A Long Overdue Update

Posted: January 15, 2011 in News and General Posts

I originally started this blog as a way to keep my mind sharp (and to remain sane) during the summer before my final year of grad school.  At that time, I noticed that a few books on my to-read list shared something in common: they were the authors’ firsts, mostly published by smaller presses.

Reviewing books that fell under this category and posting them on a blog seemed like a great way to get the word out about these writers to my friends.  And since I was reviewing books from primarily first-time authors, I also figured it would be easier to get interviews from them, too.  I didn’t expect anyone outside my circle of book-loving friends and acquaintances to visit and read the blog.

Turns out that writers and publishers and agents and PR reps check out these kinds of sites, then they send you free books, and almost two years later you’re still working on the same summer project.

That said, I haven’t kept up with the original mission statement: “Once a week, the blog will feature a review of a recent book release…”  At times I’ve gone several weeks, even months, without posting updates, let alone reviews.  This operation is a one-man show—one that doesn’t pay, keep in mind—and with all my other personal and professional obligations, maintaining this site rarely tops my list of priorities.  Even though I wish that weren’t the case.

So I wanted to post a somewhat formal announcement to state that I won’t be reviewing books for this site on any type of regular basis.  Though it shouldn’t really come as a surprise, since I haven’t been posting regularly for some time, now.  Even so, I felt the need to explain myself, in case the updating becomes less frequent than it already has.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ve enjoyed what’s been posted so far!

—Dan DeWolf


The Passage by Justin Cronin (6/8/2010)
Rich Boy by Sharon Pomerantz (8/2/2010)
Man in the Woods by Scott Spencer (9/14/2010)
Listen to This by Alex Ross (9/28/2010)
The Bigness of the World by Lori Ostlund (10/1/2010)
Possum Trot by J. Harley McIlrath (10/2/2010)
World and Town by Gish Jen (10/5/2010)
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut (10/13/2010)
How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu (10/14/2010)
The Box: Tales from the Darkroom by Günter Grass (11/10/2010)
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley (11/11/2010)
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 by Mark Twain (11/15/2010)
The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan (12/6/2010)
Under Fishbone Clouds by Sam Meekings (12/7/2010)
The Four Stages of Cruelty by Keith Hollihan (12/7/2010)
Old Border Road by Susan Froderberg (12/9/2010)
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (1/4/2011)
The Empty Family by Colm Toibin (1/4/2011)

For an avid reader, the value of a good book can’t be priced.  That’s because a book provides an escape for its reader, acting as a portal to other worlds both real and imagined.  Books teach us about ourselves and enrich our lives through the adventures, misfortunes, and insights contained within them.  They have the ability to connect readers to one another—regardless of whether they ever meet—through a shared experience, despite the fact that reading (generally) is a solitary act.

As Anthony Doerr puts it in his essay about The Story and Its Writer, “We fall, we drift, we lose ourselves in other selves.”  Books are priceless because of the sentimental and associative values they have for us, both of which are intangible and can’t be sold at auction.

The essays that make up Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book insist that books in their physical, tangible form also contain a certain level of value that can’t be equaled by digital versions.  Contributors to this collection share stories about the associations they have with bound editions of books that have impacted their lives in one way or another.  These snapshot essays deliver more than a collective crusade for sustaining books printed on paper; they provide an intimate look of how books as irreplaceable objects have shaped these writers.

In the Foreword, Ray Bradbury reminisces about what lured him into reading Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe: it was the sheer size and heft of the book.  Had the massive tome not piqued his curiosity, Bradbury might not have unlocked the key to his own imagination. For Michael Ruhlman, The New Professional Chef, Fifth Edition changed the way he approaches all tasks he sets out to accomplish.  In his essay, he declares that the book “stands smack in the middle of the divide of who I was and who I am.”

Philipp Meyer reminds us that books stand the test of time.  In his own life, he credits the sight of stacked books his parents kept as the reason for reading the collection, the act of which ultimately resulted in his life-changing 180.  E-books, a Kindle, or a laptop, he says, never would have yielded those kinds of results.  Victoria Patterson’s sentiments on digital books run along the same lines: “On a screen, pages disappear.  For me, e-books are like ghosts of books.  They’re not here.”

Sarah Manguso is nostalgic for the book filled with wacky facts and weird pictures.  Her copy of Believe It or Not! gave her the sense of belonging to an exclusive club, a rite of passage reserved for those who made an effort to seek out bizarre knowledge.  Now, with the ease and accessibility of the internet, that exclusivity no longer exists; oddities are just a click away.

Julia Glass explores the connection between reader and story, while recalling her favorite childhood book.  She used the title of this book, Roar and More, in one of her own novels, and when the time came to get permission from the author, she realized that she couldn’t recall who wrote the book.  That’s because children don’t associate books with their authors; children go to books to read about their favorite characters, and in the case of picture books, to see those characters in action.

We put our books through hell, marking the margins in ink, dog-earring their pages in order to hold our spot, or—in Rabih Alameddine’s case—leaving a copy of The Carpetbaggers at his parent’s home in the mountains of Lebanon, which was bombed and looted during a time of civil war.  Sometimes, they return the gesture in various ways.

Shahriar Mandanipour writes about how his book collection, stowed away at a friend’s house, could have gotten them both killed during the Islamic Revolution; and Xu Xiaobin, who didn’t have the access to foreign titles in communist China, relates how alone and unloved she felt until Emily Dickinson’s work became available to her.  For the artist, Karen Green, The Collected Stories of Amy Hempl provided her comfort and companionship following the suicide of her husband, David Foster Wallace.

In one instance, a writer displays a moment of ambivalence toward the shift from print to digital.  While searching for an e-copy of Another Country—a book that has been, and still is, with him in every stage of his writing career—he was unable to find it in the electronic format.  “This makes me sad,” he says, “and extremely happy.”

Bound to Last isn’t meant to denounce or reject e-books completely; rather, this collection is a reminder—almost a rally—to book lovers from book lovers of books’ importance in printed form.  To hold a book in your hands, smell the must it gives off, see the worn binding, feel the page turn—these sensory perceptions can send you back to a pivotal moment in your life, in addition to transporting you into the world of a great story.  Books, in their digital form, can still give you that world, so long as they’re experienced and don’t get lost in the virtual shuffle.

Da Capo Press
October 26, 2010

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Da Capo Press has released some new titles worth checking out:

Best Music Writing 2010
Ann Powers (guest editor), Daphne Carr (series editor)
November 1st, 2010

From the publisher:

Best Music Writing has become one of the most eagerly awaited annuals out there. Celebrating the year in music writing by gathering a rich array of essays, missives, and musings on every style of music from rock to hip-hop to R&B to jazz to pop to blues and more, it is essential reading for anyone who loves great music and accomplished writing. Scribes of every imaginable sort—novelists, poets, journalists, musicians—are gathered to create a multi-voiced snapshot of the year in music writing that, like the music it illuminates, is every bit as thrilling as it is riveting.

The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II
by Alex Kershaw
October 26, 2010

From the publisher:

December 1944. Soviet and German troops fight from house to house in the shattered, corpse-strewn suburbs of Budapest. Crazed Hungarian fascists join with die-hard Nazis to slaughter Jews day and night, turning the Danube blood-red. In less than six months, thirty-eight-year-old SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann has sent over half a million Hungarians to the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Now all that prevents him from liquidating Europe’s last Jewish ghetto is an unarmed Swedish diplomatic envoy named Raoul Wallenberg.The Envoy is the stirring tale of how one man made the greatest difference in the face of untold evil. The legendary Oscar Schindler saved hundreds, but Raoul Wallenberg did what no other individual or nation managed to do: He saved more than 100,000 Jewish men, women, and children from extermination.Written with Alex Kershaw’s customary narrative verve, The Envoy is a fast-paced, nonfiction thriller that brings to life one of the darkest and yet most inspiring chapters of twentieth century history. It is an epic for the ages.

Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book
Sean Manning (editor), Ray Bradbury (foreward)
October 26, 2010

From the publisher:

Lovers of the printed book, arise! Thirty of today’s top writers are here to tell you you’re not alone.
In Bound to Last,an amazing array of authors comes to the passionate defense of the printed book with spirited, never-before-published essays celebrating the hardcover or paperback they hold most dearnot necessarily because of its contents, but because of its significance as a one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable object. Whether focusing on the circumstances behind how a particular book was acquired, or how it has become forever “bound up” with a specific person, time, or place, each piece collected here confirms—poignantly, delightfully, irrefutably—that every book tells a story far beyond the one found within its pages.
In addition to a foreword by Ray Bradbury, Bound to Last features original contributions by:
Chris Abani, Rabih Alameddine, Anthony Doerr, Louis Ferrante, Nick Flynn, Karen Joy Fowler, Julia Glass, Karen Green, David Hajdu, Terrence Holt, Jim Knipfel, Shahriar Mandanipour, Sarah Manguso, Sean Manning, Joyce Maynard, Philipp Meyer, Jonathan Miles, Sigrid Nunez, Ed Park, Victoria Patterson, Francine Prose, Michael Ruhlman, Elissa Schappell, Christine Schutt, Jim Shepard, Susan Straight, J. Courtney Sullivan, Anthony Swofford, Danielle Trussoni, and Xu Xiaobin

For a complete list of Da Capo titles, click here.  Stayed tuned for a book review of Bound to Last; it should be posted in the next few days.