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Simone White

Inside the chaos of late September, when “we” received the sneering physiognomy of Brett Kavanaugh into “our” homes with varying degrees of grief and cynicism, I became even more sure that Lost Empress by Sergio de la Pava (Pantheon) (a public defender by day who became a literary legend before you could buy his work) was the best book I read this year. Here converge a superrich and unlikable woman-football-baron and her factotum-slash-mentee (both booty-trance-inducing Brown grads) between whom Joni Mitchell’s music stands in for actual tenderness; a criminal genius who may or may not lose his mind in solitary confinement on Rikers Island; and others who hold threads of events that are the aftereffects of a death by impaling. I don’t like novels, I say when people ask, Read any good novels lately? I prefer the smoke signals, incomplete statements, and anti-narrative gestures of

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