Annalisa Quinn

Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.

Quinn studied English and Classics at Georgetown University and holds an M.Phil in Classical Greek from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Cambridge Trust scholar.

Dwight Eisenhower "became president by winning the war in the European theater," writes James Poniewozik in his new book Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America. "Donald Trump became president by winning the 9 p.m. time slot on NBC."

But Trump isn't just on TV, according to Poniewozik. He is TV. Over the course of his life, Trump "achieved symbiosis with the medium," he argues. "Its impulses were his impulses; its appetites were his appetites; its mentality was his mentality."

They wore parkas to meetings, or two pairs of tights. They traveled in pairs. They feigned phone calls and hid in bathrooms. They said no. They changed careers, or industries. They accepted settlements, thinking it was the most justice they were ever likely to see.

Many women who worked with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein say that they waged desperate tactical battles to escape his alleged sexual predation without upending their own lives.

Given enough information about online behavior, a computer can guess someone's personality traits better than a friend, parent, or even a spouse, according to a 2015 study from researchers at Stanford and Cambridge.

Overthrow, a perceptive (if overlong) new novel by Caleb Crain, unpicks this new reality: Its protagonists want to not only destroy the digital surveillance apparatus, but to see if it is possible to know each other better than the machines do.

If Jess Row, born in 1974, received a legacy from the white writers of the 20th century, it was one of "silences, defensive postures, lacunae, conscious and unconscious self-limitations" on the subject of race.

But that doesn't mean race is absent from their work, as he notes in his new book White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination: "even writers who would seem to have almost nothing to say about race...are saying a great deal."

In 1997, Emily Nussbaum was a doctoral student at NYU, studying literature and "foggily planning on becoming a professor," when an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed her life.

At the turn of this century, television was still considered unserious, "a disposable product, like a Dixie Cup," Nussbaum writes. It was also bad for you — in "the much-quoted (although possibly apocryphal) words of '90s comic Bill Hicks," it was "a spiritually harmful act, like 'taking black spray paint to your third eye.' "

As the most visible reporter to regularly spar with the president, CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta is a disputed icon.

President Trump has called Acosta a "rude, terrible person" and "fake news." To many on the right, he represents deep media bias; to some on the left, he represents media pushback against Trump's frequent lies. In his daily life, he is subject to near-constant abuse, insults and threats — along with some praise and a lot of selfie requests.

"In truth, no one expects any kind of story from a woman like me," writes the narrator of Sara Collins' intricate gothic novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton. "Like me" means a former slave from Jamaica, awaiting trial for the brutal murder of her new employers.

"Sometime in the last few years," American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis writes in White, his aggrieved new book about political correctness, he began feeling a near-constant sense of "disgust and frustration that was all due to the foolishness of other people."

The scene could have come from a novel: an unlocked door, a screaming maid, and an "unobtrusive minor aristocrat" lying in bed with his throat cut.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were once seen as moderating influences within the White House. A new book by longtime Vanity Fair journalist Vicky Ward, Kushner, Inc., portrays them instead as coiffed agents of chaos — lying, scamming and backstabbing their way through Donald Trump's Washington.

The Water Cure, a tart, uncanny debut novel by Sophie Mackintosh, is an unlikely thought experiment that asks: What if men were literally as well as figuratively toxic?

"These were knife-edge times, primal times, with everybody suspicious of everybody," says middle sister, the narrator of Anna Burns's brutally intelligent novel Milkman, set amid the Troubles in 1970's Northern Ireland.

There were the general Troubles, of course, but middle sister's specific troubles begin when a powerful paramilitary figure called the milkman (he's not a milkman) starts offering her rides home. She says no, but he begins trailing her, insinuating himself, making oblique threats.

Bernie Sanders will not say he is running for president. Instead, he employs a familiar dodge: "The year 2020 remains a long way off."

But Where We Go From Here is unmistakably a campaign book, which means that, like almost all campaign books, it is boring.

Many campaign books are ghostwritten and scraped free of controversy and doubts; these are not books in any meaningful sense of the word, but tools to generate publicity and "Is he or isn't he running?" speculation in the press.

"I am not angry. If anything, I am tired," Korede says, faced with yet another bloody crime scene to scour, yet another body to dump. The first few times, her beautiful sister Ayoola's self-defense claims seemed plausible, but the bodies have added up. And Korede Googled it: Three murders makes you a serial killer.

Sarah Perry's new novel, Melmoth, opens with an imperative: "Look!" The object of our gazes is Helen Franklin, 42, "small, insignificant, having about her an air ... of self-punishment, of self-hatred, carried out quietly and diligently and with a minimum of fuss."

Donald Trump "personally directed" efforts to silence Stormy Daniels, The Wall Street Journal reported for the first time Tuesday morning.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, will be unsurprised.

The word "nice" is a persistent problem for journalists Michael D'Antonio and Peter Eisner in their new, hostile biography of Mike Pence, The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence.

The truth about Pence, according to them, is that he is a sinister zealot, an opportunist, and a "Christian supremacist" biding his time until he can take over the presidency from Donald Trump.

But here's the problem: Sources keep calling Pence things like "nice." Luckily, D'Antonio and Eisner have a strategy — they just pretend that "nice" means its opposite.

First, Nell Stevens wrote Bleaker House, a memoir about failing to write a novel. Now, in The Victorian and the Romantic, she has written a memoir about struggling to write her doctoral dissertation.

Writing about how writing is hard tends to be solipsistic and dreary, but these procrastination-born books have, instead, a kind of truant charm — like they know they should really be the other, more serious thing, the great work, but we're all here now so we may as well go get a drink.

Sean Spicer — testy, stumbling, and visibly unhappy — was not a very good press secretary. He seemed to dislike lying; the strain of it was evident.

Sarah Sanders, with her unembarrassed and bullish ability to just keep going, no matter how implausible the message, is much more convincing. Spicer just looked like the avatar of the Republican Party's moral crisis, sweating in a suit.

It was, he writes in The Briefing, his new memoir of his time in the Trump White house, "a lonely job."

Editor's note: This piece contains some graphic language about sex.

Last year, the singer Harry Styles, formerly of the boy band One Direction, gave an interview to Rolling Stone about the launch of his solo career. The journalist asked him whether he was worried about proving his "credibility" as a solo artist to "an older crowd" — as in, people who are not teenage girls.

Helen DeWitt's Some Trick seems less like a story collection and more like a series of notes from some vast, alien intelligence, not quite human itself, but capable of picking apart human habits with startling precision. DeWitt's characters are savants, weirdos, and artists, often trying to achieve their ends against the best efforts of the well-meaning and conventional people around them.

In Curtis Sittenfeld's short story "Show Don't Tell" — not, sadly, included in her new collection, You Think it, I'll Say It — a young woman at a prestigious writing workshop competes for funding with an annoying guy in her program. Nearly 20 years later, they have both achieved a kind of literary success, but he is the kind of writer "about whom current students in the program have heated opinions; I'm the kind of writer their mothers read while recovering from knee surgery."

"Later, years later, I would hear a song made of our meeting," says the hero of Madeleine Miller's Circe, of her romance with the mortal Odysseus. Circe is referring to Homer's version of the story, in which Odysseus arrives on her island sea-battered and mourning for his men killed by the cruel Laestrygonians. Circe entraps his remaining men and turns them into pigs. But Odysseus, with the help of the god Hermes, tricks Circe and makes her beg for mercy before becoming her lover.

At the beginning of Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion, shy, bookish Greer Kadetsky is groped at a frat party. Her best friend, "innately, bracingly political" Zee, urges her to report it, but Greer feels sick at the thought. "The idea that something had been done to you seemed to implicate you, even though no one said it did, making your body — which usually lived in darkness beneath your clothing — suddenly live in light."

"I am authorized to perform acts of justice, power, and retribution, to deliver messages of comfort and healing," begins the angel that wrestled with Jacob in Mallory Ortberg's adaptation of the Biblical story, "Fear Not: An Incident Log."

At first, Asymmetry seems like a story we've heard before: Young, pretty would-be writer Alice launches an affair with Ezra, a literary celebrity several decades her senior. He gets a stent, she gets an abortion, he teaches her to pronounce Camus ("It's CA-MOO, sweetheart"), she picks up his meds, he calls her a "good girl," she calls him "cradle robber."

For the first few chapters, it seemed too tired and too insular a story to hear again all for the meagre reward of watching a lightly disguised Philip Roth ejaculate "like a weak water bubbler."

Hoaxes work when we want them to. These longings can be benign: think of Herman Rosenblat's beautiful, fake story about a girl who kept him alive by throwing apples over the fence of a concentration camp, and meeting her years later on a blind date. Who wouldn't want to believe a love story like that?

In the fictional county of Cotton, Georgia, a pair of twins is born, one white and one black. "They looked like a pair of baby chicks ... Only if you looked closely — and people did — could you see that the girl is pink as a piglet, and the boy was brown." In the summer of 1930, in segregated Georgia, they become a sensation, nicknamed the Gemini twins by the press for Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Leda by different fathers.

As a member of the generation that has been blamed for ruining everything from dinner to retirement, I am relieved to discover that it will soon all be someone else's fault. Though this comes at the cost of Death creeping ever closer, sinking the blade of his scythe into the edge of my avocado toast, I'll take what reprieve I can get.

Sing, Unburied, Sing opens with the slaughter of a goat. "The goat makes a sound of surprise, a bleat swallowed by a gurgle, and then there's blood and mud everywhere."

Yes, blood and mud are everywhere in Jesmyn Ward's Mississippi, a place full of ghosts and corpses, bayous and roadkill ("possums or armadillos or wild pigs or hit deer, bloating and turning sour in the Mississippi heat"). That oozing mud sticks to her characters: They dream of drowning, of rising waters and sucking mud. And blood, well.

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