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Movies, TV, books, the Web: 2013′s bests — so far

"The Flamethrowers" by Rachel Kushner. This novel has a bold, seamless confidence in itself and in the significance of what it has to say that you don’t realize was missing from most fiction by American women until you see it exhibited by Kushner. More than any other recent novel, it challenges the parameters of what convention deems a "big book." “The Flamethrowers” mostly takes place in the late 1970s, in New York, in Italy and a little bit in the salt flats of Utah, and it is mostly narrated by a young woman nicknamed Reno (after her hometown), as she makes her way through the Manhattan art scene. But the thrill of this novel has as much to do with its voice as with its subject matter; you have to read it to see what all the fuss is about, and to appreciate the accolades, and controversy, that will surely follow. -- Laura Miller

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