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Tuesday, May 18 2004

Hopeful Monsters by Hiromi Goto

Goto's explorations become more compelling when she links displacement with motherhood and with culture.


The Geese of Beaver Bog by Bernd Heinrich

Heinrich is admittedly tightly bound to the animals he's observing. He cares. He ain't objective and that's not good science.


Tuesday, May 11 2004

The Pornographer’s Poem by Michael Turner

If you're expecting drippy, dewy-eyed Spielbergian schmaltz, or a wistfully nostalgic look back into the bygone days of lost youth, you best look elsewhere.


The Language of Sharks by Pat MacEnulty

The stories wear their pop culture on their sleeves, critically contrasting with the existential longings expressed by the various characters.


Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky

The world did not suddenly become extraordinarily dangerous on September 11, 2001. What has changed since then is the reinterpretation of basic terms now being used to justify US policies.


Headless by Benjamin Weissman

The 16 'stories', such as they are, are divided into four sections that explore different aspects of manhood and male sexuality in an endlessly frustrating and facile manner.


Tuesday, May 4 2004

Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb

With the recent brouhaha over the latest actions taken to legalize gay marriage and the conservative Right's counteractions to ban such unions, it's surprising to learn that there were advocates of gay marriage within the church over a hundred years ago.


Project X by Jim Shepard

But somewhere through the decades, teenagers stubbed out their cigarettes and traded fast cars for Kalashnikovs.


Naked: Writers Uncover the Way We Live on Earth by Susan Zakin

Nature-centered writing has degenerated into stories about rare animals or exotic places, a niche market of upscale Baby Boomers. It is written by folks who've sworn off deodorant or humor or both.


The Book Against God by James Wood

For all those writers who got rather stinky reviews from James Wood, I'm sorry to say that you should stop holding your breath and hoping for the worst, because Wood's first novel, The Book Against God, is finely crafted.


Acquainted with the Night by Paul Raeburn

As the book reveals itself to a sad portrait of a disintegrating family, the real story becomes as muddled for the reader as it seems to be for Raeburn himself.


Tuesday, April 27 2004

A Ship Made of Paper by Scott Spencer

Spencer's novel has been billed as a love story, and while that is the heart of the plot, his character development is so complex as to outstretch the trappings of one singular romance.


The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe

Just like Oprah has her vested interests in promoting a certain style of literature, the CBC Radio panel appears to have picked an overlooked book with which everyone would find some familiarity.


Everyone Comes to Elaine’s by A. E. Hotchner

Henry Kissinger once said that the best thing about celebrity is that when you bore people, they think it's their fault. But what happens if celebrities bore each other?"


Dreamland by Newton Thornburg

Any redeeming corruption, sleaze and seduction of California in Thornburg's hands fails to sustain any kind of punch.


Tuesday, April 20 2004

The Night of Akhenaton: Selected Poems by Ágnes Nemes Nagy

The key themes of history as closure, a kind of irreversible process sealed by death into a possibility of resurrection, are never far away in Nagy's poetry.


The Bride Stripped Bare by Anonymous

So, which is it? The good wife afraid to undress in the light, or unabashed dominatrix ready to school the world on the ways of the woman?"


Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana by Stephanie Elizondo Griest

Griest stumbled into cultures that were significantly more complex than the Amnesty International literature might lead one to believe.


Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture by Michael Bellesiles

I would like nothing more than to believe that the criticism of the book stems from politics and not from any failing on Bellesiles' part. But the evidence against him is fairly damning.


Tuesday, April 13 2004

Shooting Stars: Drugs, Hollywood, and the Movies by Harry Shapiro

One of the weaknesses of this otherwise very readable history is Shapiro's decision not to look at the metaphorical function of illegal drugs in movies. He is altogether too literal.


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