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Named one of the country’s top young novelists by Granta this year, David Haynes is a funny, frank writer whose second novel, Live at Five, explores inner-city life and the news media. Mother Jones asked Haynes what he’d been reading and listening to lately. Here’s what he had to say about the upcoming CD release of the sound track from the current Broadway smash Rent (Geffen Records, 1996):

“Believe the hype: The score of Rent brings the energy and syntax of rock ‘n’ roll to the Broadway stage while doing what Broadway has always done best: matching catchy melodies with witty lyrics that tell a good story. If you haven’t heard, this is the late Jonathan Larson’s retelling of Puccini’s La Bohème, set in the East Village among an appealing crew of struggling artists and other counter-cultural types.”

Also recommended by Haynes:

In Theory of War (New York: Fawcett Book Group, 1994) by Joan Brady, a young white boy is sold into servitude following the Civil War, and his family is affected for generations. Based on a true story, Brady’s book is not an “It happened to us, too!” tale. Rather, it is a moving retrieval of a lost bit of American history — and a poignant reminder that history and tribal memory are more tenacious than some might hope.

Slyly political, Geoff Ryman’s novel Was (New York: Penguin, 1993) dissects one of the great icons of Americana — The Wizard of Oz. They’re all here: Dorothy, Toto, Judy, any number of witches, L. Frank Baum himself — and a lost and melancholy fan dying of AIDS. An engaging head trip that ultimately critiques the way we Americans tell our stories.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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