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Tuesday, April 27 2004

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.


The Lucky Ones by Rachel Cusk

The novel purports to be as felicitous and random as everyday life, but in truth it is precisely plotted and predetermined beyond all spontaneity.


Generation S.L.U.T.*: A Brutal Feel-Up Session with Today’s Sex-Crazed Adolescent Populace by Marty

It's as if the worst aspects of advanced capitalism have come true. Orgasm equals validation, promiscuity determines popularity, fashion determines social hierarchy, and savvy manipulation of others is the highest pursuit of all.


The Grave of God’s Daughter by Brett Ellen Block

The novel offers a darker view of religion, highlighting the dangers of an all-powerful church that binds its adherents to their suffering rather than offering them genuine solutions.


Tuesday, April 6 2004

On the Blue Shore of Silence by Pablo Neruda

There is something in the less logical, more associative poems that is appropriate, and has the most enduring, mystic resonance.


Hungarian Cinema: From Coffee House to Multiplex by John Cunningham

Hungarian film has, until now, remained a 'specialist' subject, due variously to Hungary's political situation, a reluctance of the 'West' to translate and promote these films, and the notorious difficulty of the Hungarian language.


Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties by Marion Meade

Even before you're done reading that subtitle, about 'writers running wild,' the theme is already being stretched to fill out the book.


Baseballissimo: My Summer in the Italian Minor Leagues by Dave Bidini

Nettuno is painted as an almost mythical place, like Garcia Marquez's Macondo, where the only news of major league North American baseball comes via such quaint outlets as the newspaper and, occasionally, the radio.


Tuesday, March 23 2004

The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing

The tension no longer rests in the female narrators' attempts to find and define themselves, but instead flows from the way their actions shape the lives of their offspring.


The Epicure’s Lament by Kate Christensen

He protects against lasting human connections by deploying a steady stream of vitriol to any person unlucky enough to be within earshot. To Christensen's credit, she never dilutes his obnoxiousness to make him or the novel more palatable.


City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center by James Glanz and Eric Lipton

For many occupants, life and death became a matter of where you were, which way you went and the sometimes unintended consequences of design.


The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn by Janis Hollowell

By throwing medication into the mix, Hollowell confuses the theology. Does God deny his visions to people who are on psychiatric medication?"


Tuesday, March 9 2004

Very Short Stories by Josh Thorpe

I'm not sure if this is an anthology of prose, poetry, a collection of gags, or something else altogether.


To the Heart of the Nile by Pat Shipman

This story, subtitled Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa does not merely address the gender inequalities of 19th century Europe, it is actually written much more with Sam's voice than with Florence's voice.


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