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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.

Editor's note: This review contains explicit accusations from Catch and Kill that some readers may find upsetting.

"If NBC, which has the evidence, doesn't go forward with this story, it's a scandal."

That was what Ken Auletta, a writer for The New Yorker who had tried and failed to break the story of Harvey Weinstein's alleged serial sexual abuse of women, said when he found out that Ronan Farrow had obtained tape of Weinstein admitting to groping the model Ambra Gutierrez.

The oil and gas industry, according to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, is "ranging like a ravenous predator on the field of democracy." It is "Godzilla over downtown Tokyo." It is "the richest, most powerful, and most destructive industry on the globe."

In an essay on race and memory, Toni Morrison wrote of "the stress of remembering, its inevitability, [but] the chances for liberation that lie within the process." Ta-Nehisi Coates' new novel, The Water Dancer, is an experiment in taking Morrison's "chances for liberation" literally: What if memory had the power to transport enslaved people to freedom?

Editor's note: This review includes graphic descriptions.

Her name is Chanel Miller.

For four years, she has been known publicly as Emily Doe, "an unconscious woman" or simply "Brock Turner's victim." In her memoir Know My Name, she wants to set the record straight: "I am a victim, I have no qualms with this word, only with the idea that it is all that I am," she writes. "However, I am not Brock Turner's victim. I am not his anything."

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.

In Henry James's ambiguous, paranoid novella The Turn of the Screw (1898), a governess is left in charge of two children in an isolated Essex country house. Over time, she becomes convinced the children are communing with the ghosts of former servants, who appear to them, at first at a distance and then ever closer, threatening to lead them to damnation. By the end, a child is dead, but we still don't know: Were the ghosts real, or were they in the governess's head?

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.

Long considered fringe, the right wing radio host Mark Levin has had a few good years: He picked up a weekly Fox News show ("Life, Liberty & Levin"); he counts conservative political commentator Sean Hannity as his best friend; and the president recently tweeted in support of his new book, "Word is out that book is GREAT!"

"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."

"We're your oldest friend, your ancient enemy ..." warn the chorus of Namwali Serpell's lush speculative novel The Old Drift.

Can you guess who they are? "We're perfectly matched ..." they say. "We're both useless, ubiquitous species. But while you all rule the earth and destroy it for kicks, we linger and loaf, unsung heroes. We've been around here as long as you have — for eons before, say the fossils."

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.

"Everyone knows there is a good Jill and a bad Jill."

In her new book, Merchants of Truth, Jill Abramson writes that this is what New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said to her before he gave her the job of executive editor in 2011.

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.

"If you could see every bird in the world, you'd see the whole world," writes Jonathan Franzen in The End of the End of the Earth. In the new collection of previously published essays — spanning art, nature and autobiography — he travels the world finding hope in things with feathers.

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.

"Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles ... How the epithets pile up," begins The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker's tart retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of Achilles' concubine, Briseis.

"We never called him any of those things," she continues, "we called him 'the butcher.'"

Editor's note: This review includes some graphic language about sex and other adult themes.

"Today marks my sixteenth year on this hot, horrible earth," begins Ponti, the debut novel by Singapore-born writer Sharlene Teo. From there, everything just gets hotter and more horrible.

"I used to hope that puberty would morph me," the book's primary narrator, Szu, continues, "that one day I'd uncurl from my chrysalis, bloom out beautiful. No luck! Acne instead. Disgusting hair. Blood."

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."

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