Annalisa Quinn

I think about her when I'm getting into a strange car, or meeting a source alone. I think about her when I'm flying to a new part of the world, when I take an assignment on spec, when a story seems too good to be true. Like most reporters, I would have gotten on the submarine. That is the whole point of this job, this embattled, brittle, irreplaceable profession: the way it offers access to invisible worlds, right down to the bottom of the sea.

From the outside, Melania Trump looks like a woman in over her tastefully balayaged head. At public events, she rarely speaks, but assumes the rictus smolder — like a model who has just spotted a lion over the photographer's shoulder — that inspired a thousand #freemelania signs.

With her Hunger Games novels, Suzanne Collins harnessed a combination of twisty plots, teen romance, dystopian worldbuilding and subtle intimations of cannibalism to sell more than 100 million books around the world.

In her memoir Living History, Hillary Clinton introduces her husband, Bill Clinton, as "the person who would cause my life to spin in directions that I could never have imagined."

Is it me, or does the word "spin" conjure a car spinning off the road?

Curtis Sittenfeld's new novel, Rodham, imagines what would have happened if she had righted the wheel. Rodham is a nauseating, moving, morally suggestive, technically brilliant book that made me think more than any other in recent memory about the aims and limits of fiction.

"If the world was about to end was there anything she should be doing?" wonders Kathy, the languid protagonist of Olivia Laing's novel Crudo, set in the tense, airless summer of 2017.

Kathy and her contemporaries — the kind of bohemians who go to art fairs and take turns writing each other up in glossy magazines — exist in a state of malaise induced by the constant, passive receipt of half-understood bad news (see also: Twitter). It was all happening — Donald Trump, Brexit, climate change, the migrant crisis — but none of it was quite happening to them.

Mark O'Connell's new book about the end of the world is not called Notes from the Apocalypse, but rather Notes From an Apocalypse — a gesture of articular modesty that points to a larger truth: Despite the climate crisis, despite a global pandemic, it has always been "the end of the world for someone, somewhere."

Like William Faulker's As I Lay Dying, C Pam Zhang's debut novel opens with a body in need of burying.

In How Much of These Hills is Gold, Lucy and Sam, 12 and 11, children of Chinese laborers, take their father's body on a journey through the California hills in the middle of the Gold Rush. The quest for burial, the family strife, the smell of death, the hot sun, the dust, the storms, all recall Faulker. Ba (Mandarin for "dad") haunts the narrative as Addie Bundren did, first as voice and then ultimately as a corpse, awful, unwieldy, and decomposing.

"This story begins with the Adderall," opens Casey Schwartz's Attention: A Love Story. In 2000, Schwartz was in college, struggling to write an essay, when a friend offered her a pill "the deep bright blue of a cartoon sky" and her hand "shot out to receive it."

Here already are the seeds of what is coming: It is not "Adderall" but "the Adderall," not the serviceable "take" or "grab" but the sacramental "receive."

White House memoirs generally fall into two categories: Me, I was there! and Hey, it wasn't my fault!

ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl's new book, Front Row at the Trump Show, is in the former.

Karl's book tells of how he first met Trump when he was working as a New York Post reporter: "I was a cub reporter for a New York tabloid. He was a flamboyant real estate developer with a scandalous personal life." (To quote Avril Lavigne, "Can I make it any more obvious?")

In her now famous essay, "Men Explain Things to Me," Rebecca Solnit describes a party in a ski chalet, at which she told the owner of the chalet that she had just written a book about the photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

"And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?" he asked. The man then held forth about this book for several minutes before Solnit realized he was talking about her book. When this fact is finally, effortfully, conveyed to him, he went "ashen."

"Every three hundred years or so, our kind gets loosed upon an unsuspecting world. And this time around, the history books would know us as the 1989 Danvers High School Women's Varsity Field Hockey Team."

At the beginning of Quan Barry's charming teen witchcraft-slash-field-hockey novel We Ride Upon Sticks, the Danvers team is remarkable only for the frequency of their losses. They are like the Bad News Bears, with the caveat that "even though up until now we were reliably pretty terrible, nobody would ever say our hearts were in the right place."

President Warren G. Harding once urged the American people to "strive for production as Babe Ruth strives for home runs."

In Gish Jen's inventive but muddled dystopian novel The Resisters, production is no longer the problem, though home runs are still in demand. In the country Jen calls "AutoAmerica," AI and automation have created such a glut of stuff that the underclasses exist to consume — "[n]ot that charges of underconsumption couldn't be fought in the courts," Jen writes. "This was AutoAmerica, after all."

"The Russian language has an especially rich word for a person skilled in the act of compromise and adaptation, who intuitively understands what is expected of him and adjusts his beliefs and conduct accordingly: prisposoblenets," writes Joshua Yaffa in his new book, Between Two Fires, a portrait of the Russian state through those who have decided to compromise with it.

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."

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