Columns > Books

Wednesday, October 27 2010

‘Poltergeist’: Home Sweet Hell

James Kahn’s version of Poltergeist is a rare example of a book written after a movie is released, which results in a riveting read.


Monday, October 25 2010

And Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson: ‘Jerry Robinson: Ambassador of Comics’

In a conversation with Jerry Robinson, the man who created the Joker, we learn he is much like the superheroes with which he will forever be identified; his career reflects a lifetime of pushing boundaries, challenging conventions, and fighting for artistic integrity.


Sunday, October 17 2010

The 24-hour News Cycle Rhetoric Yields to Something Far More Human in ‘The Promise: President Obama’

This book works because it doesn't skimp on details: the reason behind every major Obama Year One decision is explained, and the result is fascinating. If only Alter toned down the declarative statements...


Monday, October 11 2010

Philip Roth’s ‘Nemesis’: The Case Against God and Man

Here is Philip Roth in his familiar, brutal finery, his most biting and honest eloquence: the great existential wondering which has tormented so many of his characters.


Thursday, October 7 2010

‘A Cambodian Odyssey’: Haing Ngor Was Among the Most Consequential Actors of His Time

It isn't often that a brutal personal account of mass murder, slavery, torture and the obliteration of a sovereign nation causes a reader to meditate on the art of acting, but then, Haing Ngor's was no ordinary life.


Wednesday, October 6 2010

‘The Grapes of Wrath’: The Specter of Tom Joad Emerges From America’s Dark Past, Once Again

With the current economic climate -- increasing rates of foreclosure, evictions, unemployment, poverty and misery -- this classic story dangerously impinges upon the present to reveal the specter of Tom Joad emerging from the darkness, once again.


Thursday, September 9 2010

Ironically Facebook and Its 500 Million Friends Remain Largely a Mystery

In the beginning, Mark Zuckerberg was a socially-awkward teenager, a computer science major at Harvard University, who arrived toting an eight-foot-long whiteboard as a brainstorming tool...


Tuesday, September 7 2010

Philosophical Tactics in International Soccer

What exactly are Marx, Hegel, Aristotle and Socrates doing after Confucius blows the ref’s whistle? They’re not just thinking about soccer. They’re playing... sort of.


Tuesday, August 31 2010

‘Eclipse’: A Sort of Romantic Kind of Fairytale

When I saw Eclipse, a gaggle of teenage girls behind me giggled, gasped and squealed their way through most of the film. Each time their hysteria erupted, it happened during a romantic scene.


Thursday, August 26 2010

‘The Men Who Would Be King’ Reveals the Stuff That DreamWorks Was Undone By

With energy and a candor reflecting a veteran journalist unworried whether she'll eat lunch in that town again or not, author Nicole LaPorte reveals the parallels between the DreamWorks story and that of any dream's road to either reality or perdition.


Tuesday, August 3 2010

Feeding an Addiction

Call me a romantic, but after watching so much of that wet and messy business, I crave a less-is-more, simpler, sexier rendition of food porn. Instead, of grotesque, I prefer burlesque and have found that the good stuff isn’t on reality TV.


Wednesday, July 28 2010

Future Shock, Postmodern Nostalgia, and Uncanny Technologies

The speed of technological change is unprecedented. Author Anna Jane Grossman finds that it has imbued her "with a kind of odd nostalgia for right now.”


Tuesday, July 20 2010

Manly Love: Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg’s Letters

Kerouac and Ginsberg are cosmic twins borne from Whitman’s Universal skull, bonded as comrades, cerebrally-joined as poets -- but it will sour for Kerouac when Ginsberg uses his poetic voice as a political trump card.


Wednesday, July 14 2010

‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’: A Child of Israel and the Children of Palestine

Reading narratives of the seemingly intractable Arab-Israeli conflict is like trying to follow the plot of a novel that has had every other page ripped out. Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness has fewer missing pages than most.


Tuesday, July 13 2010

Fooled by Skepticism

Skepticism has been fueling pop culture for decades. Just ask John Lennon or Pete Townshend. Lately it’s just been fooling pop culture about science.


Sunday, July 11 2010

How Does One Beat the Heat? Try Descending Into Icy Madness

To cope with the heat wave, advisories suggest visiting 'cooling centers' or public pools. To achieve a truly chilled-out state of mind, however, why not open the door to your mind and let the iceman cometh inside?


Sunday, June 27 2010

Confessions of a Political Romantic: Christopher Hitchens’ ‘Hitch-22’

Hitchens often remarks here on his being a late bloomer, and so it is that some will see the core of Hitch-22 as the story of the author’s inner journey in adulthood from firebrand '60s campus radical to geezery Tory of the Anglo-American variety.


Thursday, June 10 2010

The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenney: A ‘Suspicious’ Literary Biography

Marion Meade's new book begs the question: Are literary biographies necessary? Somewhere in the afterlife, Nathanael West is having a good chuckle.


Sunday, June 6 2010

Viewing the World at the Level of the Snail’s Lowly Trail

"... I have crawled most of the way through life. I have crawled downward into holes without a bottom, and upward, wedged into crevices where the wind and the birds scream at you until the sound of a falling pebble is enough to make the sick heart lurch."


Thursday, May 27 2010

Race in America, Race in Music: Different Trains,  Same Two Tracks

It's an American pop music creation myth: that blues and folk music developed along two distinct tracks, with their own distinct traditions, divided along racial lines. The truth is, of course, far more slippery and complicated.


//Blogs

Authenticity Issues and the New Intimacies

// Marginal Utility

"The social-media companies have largely succeeded in persuading users of their platforms' neutrality. What we fail to see is that these new identities are no less contingent and dictated to us then the ones circumscribed by tradition; only now the constraints are imposed by for-profit companies in explicit service of gain.

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