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Ginger Ale On The Rocks, An Excerpt From "The Love Song Of Jonny Valentine"

The novel The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, which is out today, is narrated by the 11-year-old pop star known for such bubblegum hits as "Guys vs. Girls" and "U R Kewt." The novel tracks Jonny, who speaks and thinks in a mash-up of tween grammar and music-industry lingo, on his "Valentine Days" tour across America. As he chafes under the control of his manager-mother, Jane, he attempts to reconnect clandestinely over the Internet with someone claiming to be his long-lost father. (In a review last week in The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani had nice things to say about it.)

In this scene, Jonny has escaped [...]

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Nine Paris Apartments In Eleven Hours

In 2007, Rosecrans Baldwin was offered a job with an ad agency in Paris, and he and his wife made the move to France from Brooklyn. In this excerpt from Paris, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down, his new (and very funny) memoir about the experience, he goes on a search for an apartment.

Three weeks later, I returned to Paris to find an apartment. The agency provided me with an HR representative and a real-estate agent to show me around. Extremely generous of them, I thought. We saw eleven apartments in nine hours. The agent was serious about her business. She rarely smiled, driving [...]

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"Hecuba": From Miles Klee's "Ivyland"

Miles Klee's debut novel, Ivyland, takes place in a crumbling, violent, post-urban New Jersey. Published by OR Books, the novel's been getting praise for its dark vision of a burned-out world where drug companies rule, nature is reclaiming what it can, and locals like Hecuba—the bus driver in this excerpt—can only look on in weary disbelief as the past disappears.

One hangover-blasted Wednesday, Hecuba dreamt she was asleep at the wheel, lead-foot subconscious running her route. Eventually she admitted to herself this was no dream and hooked an instinctual right to avoid entering at 60 mph a drive-through ATM tube that would’ve shaved the top [...]

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How To Talk To Your Dog*

This essay appears in Deliriously Happy: and Other Bad Thoughts, out this week.

Have you ever noticed that you always know when your dog wants to go “out”? Or when he is hungry? Or when he is angry with you or others?

You know because your dog is already talking to you!

Dogs are natural actors, instinctively adept at using their bodies and facial expressions to communicate with you nonverbally. They are also expert mimes, capable of performing a vast repertoire of deceptively simple routines to subtly get their points across. Some of these “bits” are universal (e.g., nosing the dog dish to indicate hunger, drinking out of the [...]

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A Ninja Superstar, From "Jujitsu Rabbi And The Godless Blonde"

An excerpt from the opening of journalist Rebecca Dana's new memoir, Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde: A True Story. The book tells about the year Dana spent living in a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, with a rabbi named Cosmo, while working as a fashion writer for Tina Brown.

It's ten o'clock on a Tuesday night, a light rain is falling on the wide streets of Brooklyn, and I'm in my living room, strangling a rabbi.

This is the first time I've ever physically assaulted a man of God, and I have to say, it feels excellent. My fingers, with their chipped red nail polish, are digging into [...]

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When A Medieval Knight Could Marry Another Medieval Knight

Eric Berkowitz's new book Sex And Punishment, out today from Counterpoint, is a fascinating survey of how legal systems over the millenia have attempted to regulate and police sex. In this excerpt, a discussion of the once-wide acceptance of same-sex unions between men in Europe of the Middle Ages.

Despite the risks, devotional relationships between men were common in Europe at the time, at least among the literate, and many of these affairs must have included sex at some point. Knights, aristocrats, and especially clerics left expansive evidence of their intense passions for male lovers, relationships that often ended in side-by-side burials. A letter from a respected monk–scholar [...]

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The Problem with Pennies, From 'The End Of Money'

If pennies and nickels are largely useless, why does the U.S. Mint continue to manufacture them? In this excerpt from The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers—and the Coming Cashless Society, out this week, David Wolman investigates why eliminating the penny is problematic.

In the Victorian ballroom of the Charing Cross Hotel in London, the thirteenth annual Digital Money Forum is wrapping up with a session of free beer and wine. Beneath brass chandeliers, people from the worlds of banking, telecom, academia, and international development have absorbed an entire weekend’s worth of talk about money in the form of bits and bytes, and tomorrow’s technologies for handling [...]

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An Excerpt From "Kapitoil"

Teddy Wayne's debut novel, Kapitoil, opens up The 2011 Tournament of Books at The Morning News tomorrow, squaring off against a little-known novel called Freedom by some guy whose name we forget. Kapitoil was named one of Booklist's "Top 10 First Novels of 2010," among other honors, and an excerpt won a 2010 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. Its narrator is Karim Issar, a young, socially awkward computer programmer from Doha, Qatar, who comes to Wall Street in the boom times of 1999 and writes a program that accurately predicts oil futures based on geopolitical news articles. Karim has learned his stilted—though grammatically perfect—English through the worlds of [...]

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Take These Broken Wings, From 'This Is Your Captain Speaking'

Jon Methven's comedic new novel, This Is Your Captain Speaking, out today from Simon & Schuster, takes up the lives of plane passengers who survive a miraculous Captain Sully-type landing in the Hudson River only to find themselves in the midst of a massive conspiracy. Here's how everything starts.

Air Wanderlust Flight 2921 crested the skyline that separated New York City from the heavens then banked a soft right into a raspberry sun. It climbed against an insatiable gravity and skipped toward an archipelago of pinkish clouds, a flat stone across a blessed sea. The captain tipped a left wing to the drifting metropolis. The passengers on that [...]

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Psychological Risks Associated With Pencil Sharpening, From David Rees' 'How To Sharpen Pencils'

An excerpt from David Rees' newest book How To Sharpen Pencils, out today from Melville House. The book's official launch happens at Barnes & Noble Union Square tomorrow night at 7 p.m., at an event featuring Eugene Mirman, Stacy London and Sam Anderson.

Every aspect of pencil sharpening includes its own suite of pleasures and anxieties. The pleasures should be familiar to you; we turn now to the anxieties.

Although sharpening a pencil is usually a psychologically rewarding experience, resulting in feelings of accomplishment and serenity, it also entails psychological risks. It is your professional and personal responsibility to be aware of these risks, and to actively discourage [...]

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From Green Corridor To Thick Edge: The Linear Park

This excerpt comes from Diana Balmori's A Landscape Manifesto. Balmori Associates, her landscape and urban design firm, recently completed a nine-mile linear park on the abandoned New Haven railroad in Connecticut.

Converting a railroad corridor to a linear park results in an essential transformation of a past artifact. Though linear parks and other new landscape forms take their structure from the past, they have risen to the level of new typologies. They mark the beginning of a new landscape agenda. The example of an abandoned railway line made into a linear park or greenway will serve as the poster child of such ecological transformations.

This [...]