Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

In the Book Review:
African Idyll

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008


Helene Cooper’s The House at Sugar Beach looks very good, but snagging the cover of the Book Review is no substitute for a review that engages with the book instead of merely telling its story. What’s definitely on my list is Alissa Torres’s American Widow.

In the Book Review:
The First Lady

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008


The combination of my overindulgence and the Book Review’s undercommitment made this week’s task an unusually unpleasant slog, but I got through it at last.

In the Book Review:
War and Peace

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008


I feel myself getting closer to the moment when I say, “I don’t need to be doing this anymore.” This week’s issue is so crummy — “grossly inadequate,” the only imaginable alternative, sounds like a euphemism — that the idea of reforming the Book Review seems only to be so massively unlikely that one might as well direct one’s constructive impulses to some other project.

In the Book Review:
A Not So Common Reader

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008


A memorable issue. Only one Maybe, but lots of Noes.

Reading Note:
War Declared!

Sunday, August 17th, 2008


With a muted thunderclap, Walter Kirn’s review (in today’s issue of The New York Times Book Review) of James Wood’s new book (How Fiction Works) announces the terms of engagement between two literary camps that, until recently, have not had to recognize one another in public. So far, they’ve been able to get away with snubbing — ignoring — one another. Only recently have they taken to showing up at the same parties, or at least on the same coffee tables.

Surely no two of this country’s periodicals have shared a readership for longer than The New Yorker and the Book Review; but until this decade their differences were blurry, kept politely out of focus. Now, perhaps goaded by the frightening challenges that big-time media face in the age of the Blogosphere, the parties are slipping off their gloves. Mr Kirn’s piece crystallizes a long-settling distinction: where The New Yorker (Mr Wood’s outlet) argues for coherence, the Book Review (and, arguably, the newspaper behind it) plumps for fashion. That these alliances — the glossy, Condé-Nast-owned magazine’s with the long view and the long-lasting; the only-lately Painted Lady’s with what Mr Kirn so wonderfully calls “a mess, a mystery or a miracle” — are exactly the opposite of what might have been expected adds exactly the Jovial note that was wanted. (more…)

In the Book Review:

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008


Aside from a great cover story (reviewing Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic, this week’s Book Review is unusually poor. Two pretty stinky books, by Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Olen Butler, find themselves together under “No.” Even famous writers have to write good books to merit coverage.

In the Book Review:
Black Sites

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008


Alan Brinkley’s review of Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side almost makes up for the indifference of the rest of this week’s issue.

In the Book Review:
House Proud

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008


The book on the cover, Thrumpton Hall, sounds wonderfully funny — and horrifying as well. Below the jump, Thrumpton from the air. (more…)

In the Book Review:
Killer Children

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008


A lazy week at the Book Review….too lazy to inspire a complete sentence.

In the Book Review:
Atmospheric Disturbances

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008


As the weeks go by, I wonder when, if ever, the editors are going to get round to William J Bernstein’s A Splendid Exchange, a more important book than any covered in this week’s Book Review.

In the Book Review:
Livin’ La Vida Local

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Detail from Conrado Massaguer’s poster: I could look at this design all day. It’s both gorgeous and very, very clever.

A tolerable issue, at least by Book Review standards; no Noes. Walter Kirn’s piece on the new James Frey novel may not be his best review ever, but it’s extraordinarily amusing — in a non-LOL way.

In the Book Review: Urban Poet

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008


Now, here’s an idea. Reviewing the new collection of Frank O’Hara’s poetry, William Logan writes,

He was always looking for some vivid stimulus, preferably one a little outlandish — not a bad thing for a curator of modern painting, perhaps, but not necessarily a good one for a poet (O’Hara treated contemporary art with far more deliberation than he treated poetry). He began to make poetry from whatever happened around him — today, he might have written a blog.

Thought for today!

In the Book Review: Real WMD’s

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008


Sometimes a cigar is just a Kennedy accessory. Good reviews by Richard Holbrooke, Michael Hirschorn, Emily Mitchell, Anthony Julius, and Joel Brouwer.

In the Book Review: Tapped Out

Friday, June 20th, 2008


Oops! Did get round to posting this vital link until this morning.

In the Book Review

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008


Are there still people out there who believe that the best judge of something is someone who doesn’t like it? Aside from the folks at the Book Review, that is.

In the Book Review

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008


A big issue, with lots of Noes. “Summer Reading” is not “Summer Reviewing”!

Portico Update:
In the Book Review

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008


This week’s Book Review review…

Daily Office:

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008


Matins: A look at this week’s Book Review, which is just about as disappointing as last week’s was inspiring.

Tierce: Is there anything as compulsively readable as oral history? Florent, the pioneering restaurant in the meatpacking district that has finally, some might say, reaped what it sowed, will be closing late next month, and a number of habitués, including Calvin Klein and Roy Lichtenstein’s widow, join Florent Morellet and members of his staff at Frank Bruni’s microphone.

Sext: How about a $150 burger? (Price subject to market fluctuations.) Where but at the Wall Street Burger Shoppe would you expect to find ground Kobe-style beef?


Daily Office:

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008


Matins: This week’s Book Review is without a doubt the best issue in all the time that I’ve been peering at it through my reproving lorgnette.

Tierce: The good people of Juneau cut power consumption by 30% — because they had to. There’s nothing like an avalanche to get everybody’s attention.

Sext: At her apartment on Sunday, Megan handed me a bag of books that I had given her years and years ago: time to make room for Ryan’s library. I was very glad to get my second copy of this back.


Daily Office:

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008


Matins: Five movies in one afternoon and evening — I tacked on Rushmore at the end. Even though I still haven’t got to the bottom of the NuLytely literbox, I’m ready for bed, and no longer hungry. The munchies passed at around nine o’clock, long before I started in on the Sauvignon Blanc.

Nones: Well, that’s over — and LXIV and I celebrated with a lovely lunch afterward. Just when I was getting good at remembering Versed, they changed the anaesthetic to something called Propothal, about which I can find nothing very official on the Internet.

Compline: Somehow, I managed to squeak through on the Book Review front. This week’s look, at Portico. (more…)