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Reviews > Books

Wednesday, November 6 2013

‘Levels of Life’ Is, on One Level, a Meditation on Julian Barnes’ Grief

Levels of Life is also an exercise in form, an exemplar of the inadequacy of any one literary form for expressing certain sentiments and theses.


Tuesday, November 5 2013

What Happened to Imperial Russia’s Most Powerful Aristocratic Families?

In Former People, Douglas Smith follows the fates of two families during the revolutions and Civil War that played out across Russia between 1917 and 1922, and he continues to track the fates of those who chose to remain in the Soviet Union.


‘There’s Plenty of Almost Everything in the Debut Thriller, ‘The Abomination’

The last hundred or so pages of this book are quite engaging, as the story shifts geographically and the hazard level ratchets upward.


Monday, November 4 2013

‘Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York’

By the end of this book, whether you’ve lived in the Big Apple or not, you will be able to breathe the passion this city inspires in the people who come to love it.


‘At the Bottom of Everything’ Shows Its Author’s Promise

Ben Dolnick is a young writer from, Brooklyn, and he is the real thing. His gift for metaphors deserves recognition. He writes with humor and intellectual rigor.


Friday, November 1 2013

‘A Little History of Literature’ Is Pleasantly Conversational Rather Than Authoritative

To deny the value of literature requires a willful ignorance of almost heroic proportions, and this is a welcome reminder of the role it has played in our lives, and of its indubitable destiny to continue to do so.


‘Masters of Sex’ Is Educational and Entertaining in Equal Measures

The author suggests that Masters spent his entire life trying to discover love.


Thursday, October 31 2013

It’s Refreshing to Read an Essay That’s Not Trying to Tap Dance Its Way Into Your Heart

David Lazar's writing in Occasional Desire: Essays is personal yet scholarly, funny yet melancholy, familiar and warm, yet experimental and original.


Love Is a Karaoke Bar in ‘Turn Around Bright Eyes’

Rob Sheffield returns with an inspiring love story and musical memoir that is also funny, touching, and smart.


Rob Sheffield Shows Us How to Talk to Girls

Sheffield is a supersmart, insightful, funny, passionate fan who delights in the visceral and communal pleasures of popular music.


Wednesday, October 30 2013

Is It Likely That a Seismic Shift Can Occur in Journalism?

Thomas E. Patterson's Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism is a critical reminder that a free press can only work when citizens hold it to high standards.


‘George Cukor: A Double Life’ Is Essential Reading on Queer Cinema and Hollywood History

Everyone in Hollywood knew George Cukor’s secret, but it was never spoken freely until the arrival of Patrick McGilligan’s thoroughly researched book.


Tuesday, October 29 2013

‘Around the World in 80 Raves’ Is a Serviceable Gazetteer of the Festival Landscape

Did you know that Mexico City hosts its own major rock festival (Corona Capital), there is an annual electronic music fest in Beijing (INTRO), and South Africa has its own Burning Man inspired event (Afrikaburn)?


Monday, October 28 2013

‘Subversives’ Tells How Academic Freedom Came Under Fire and Was Changed Forever

The political drama that unfolds in these pages is a tragedy of the greatest kind: men who champion American ideals such as freedom of expression are squashed by men of power.


‘The Madonna on the Moon’ Is an Enchanting Debut

The villagers of Baia Luna are more worried about where the Virgin Mary lives than with the impending arrival of Communism.


Friday, October 25 2013

Just Another Guy Struggling to Explain John Coltrane’s Music with Words

What's really behind all the academic-ese in Beyond a Love Supreme is a desire by Whyton and his fellow Coltrane scholars to find fancy ways of embracing the musician’s later and less traditional playing.


Thursday, October 24 2013

‘A Short History of the Twentieth Century’ Is Briskly Written, Fiercely Opinionated, and Cranky

Particularly in the later chapters, Lukacs' 75-year century leaves readers vulnerable to conceptual whiplash and the author vulnerable to rhetorical absurdity.


Wednesday, October 23 2013

Aminatta Forna’s Mastery of Form in ‘The Hired Man’ Is Not Merely Literary Swagger

A man in a Croatian village still shaken by war meets a family who unwittingly "open a trapdoor to the past" in this beautifully paced, quietly suspenseful novel.


Do the Teenaged Girls in ‘Dare Me’ Have Testicles Where Their Ovaries Should Be?

Dare Me has been compared to everything from Fight Club to Lord of the Flies and is just as overtly masculine and dark as those two noted novels.


Tuesday, October 22 2013

The Saga of a Self-Made Man: ‘Jack London: An American Life’

Although the highest-paid author in America, with a million books sold, Jack London found himself pitching "crackerjack" serials as "a dog writer" to grab "the biggest public I have".


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