Culture » Literature

The End of the Suburbs; Babayaga; P.S. - You're Invited ... book reviews

Short Stories

by and

The End of the Suburbs

The End of the Suburbs

Leigh Gallagher

Portfolio/Penguin USA, $25.95/hardcover

In The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving, Leigh Gallagher looks at the reality of the suburbs — a place that young people can't escape fast enough, where everyone has a yard and needs a car. She covers much of the same ground that James Howard Kunstler did in The End of Suburbia, but without the apocalyptic glee. Instead, Gallagher makes a solid case for the suburbs as a 70-year fluke in American housing and municipal planning: She includes data on the progressive impoverishment of the suburbs as the wealthy folks return to the cities they once fled. But it's not all negative. Gallagher points out that some of the decline of the suburbs is driven by the end of our romance with the automobile — we're tired of driving all the time — and that the colossal changes to American family structure over recent decades have also led us to desire a denser, pedestrian- and bicycle-driven community. Far from a jeremiad, this is good news. — Kel Munger

Babayaga: A Novel

Babayaga: A Novel

Toby Barlow

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27/hardcover

Toby Barlow, who wrote an entire werewolf novel in verse (Sharp Teeth), casts a still-poetic eye here on Russian folk tales about a witch who lived in a hut on chicken legs. But only one of Barlow's witches in Babayaga is the traditional ugly crone; the other is a seductress, Zoya, who has been young and gorgeous for centuries. She and Elga (the crone), along with a priest-turned-into-a-rat, have been having a fine time in bloody Europe, but now, it's 1959, and Zoya has attracted attention since she impaled her last lover on a spike. Her next mark, American ad-man Will, has gotten entangled with spying for the CIA, and Inspector Vidot, who is investigating the murder of Zoya's last lover, has been turned into a flea. Set it all in Paris and stir with poetic interludes that Barlow calls "witches' songs" for a cauldron's worth of story that addresses the nature of love, the power of mortality and the value of integrity. — Kel Munger

P.S. - You're Invited ...

P.S. - You're Invited ...

Erica Domesek

Atria, $26/hardcover (release date: Sept. 10)

There's something tantalizing about DIY projects, blending creativity, frugality and the ability to say, "Hey! Look what I made!" So when Erica Domesek, founder of the popular P.S. - I made this ... website and woman crowned "Fashion's Queen of DIY" by Elle magazine, writes a book, it comes with high anticipation. Presenting 40 projects focused on "celebration and stylish living," Domesek features items such as brightly colored rope garland, a fedora "faux-stitched" with Sharpies, and sunglasses embellished with gold puffy-paint polka dots. Of course, the real trick to DIY is making something look, well, not DIY, and while Domesek stuffs this book with tips and tricks (and in the e-version, links to online video help), the overall feeling comes off as kitschy versus unique. If you're brand-new to the movement, her step-by-step instructions could be helpful, but if you're beyond puffy paint, visit the P.S. website and Pinterest for inspiration. — Kirsten Akens

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast