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Tuesday, November 30 2004

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

While she is certainly as self-possessed as the title claims, she does not move through the novel as an active agent, but instead merely reacts to the madness at Dupont.

A Girl Like Sugar by Emily Pohl-Weary

It's essentially a glossy pulp Chick Lit novel masquerading slightly as something else altogether, a candy kiss hiding barbed wire.

Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing by Benjamin Nugent

Throughout the course of the book Nugent is much more interested in explicating Smith's pseudo-biographical lyrics than in doing any of the metaphorical legwork required to come to any sort of decisive conclusions regarding Smith's life.

Bohemian Manifesto by Laren Stover

The bohemian ethic applies well to the new millennium young and young-at-heart populations eschewing the feed, breed, and greed way of life.

Tuesday, November 16 2004

XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Judgment free, the author allows these people to put forward remarks and render themselves as more than holes, pile-drivers, screaming banshees, or grunting studs.

The White Cities: Reports from France 1925-39 by Joseph Roth

If France is the dead, Germany is the stillborn future, and Roth's exile's life the displaced, unliveable present.

People of the Bomb: Portraits of America’s Nuclear Complex by Hugh Gusterson

Gusterson argues that American military dominance is often successfully sold to the public as self-evident, humanitarian, or arising from providential destiny, not conscious political decisions.

Critical Condition: How Healthcare in America Became Big Business-and Bad Medicine by Donald L. Barl

Progress, if any is to be made, will not come until the wall is broken on the myth that a national public health care system is opposed to the core values of the United States' free market principals.

Tuesday, November 9 2004

Scars of the Soul Are Why Kids Wear Bandages When They Don’t Have Bruises by Miles Marshall Lewis

You feel like you're sitting on a bench with Lewis as he disjointedly raps to you about everything from a weird undergrad experience to his first participation in a peace circle, all through a hip-hop lens.

A Reading Diary by Alberto Manguel

While the topics discussed are various, there is one idea that unites the chapters, just as it unites humankind: the search for home.

Revenge: A Noir Anthology About Getting Even by Kerry J. Schooley and Peter Sellers

For a collection that focuses so squarely on getting 'an eye for an eye', there's a surprisingly lack of payback for the reader.

Wednesday, November 3 2004

The School of Night by Anne Rouse

Each poem is located within a wider structure that organises the collection as a whole, which offers a nocturnal sequence of instruction stretching from dusk till dawn, a poetic long night's journey into day.

The Skin of the Sky by Elena Poniatowska

The letdown comes as we are drawn back into his tormented (and eventually tedious) inner life.

Midnight Water by Gaylene Perry

Perry's style is simple yet the intensity it conveys demonstrates how even the most fascinating and heartbreaking of tales can become so much more.

Don’t Move by Margaret Mazzantini

Only in that moment do we really break down, we split open, we reveal all that is within us without limitation. It is the most jarring freedom.

Monday, October 25 2004

There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale by Sean Astin with Joe Layden

Astin's list of gripes is a Mordor-mile long, and his new book gives him the ideal opportunity to repeatedly voice each and every one of them.

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

The close-knit family psycho-drama that the author intends simply loses its purpose as its scope is blown out of proportion to match the massive scenery of Niagara Falls.

The Darling by Russell Banks

The novel reads as if every next page will contain some major revelation to provide the right connections between these characters and elements. It's an expectation that goes unfulfilled even in the last sentence.

Tuesday, October 12 2004

Men and Cartoons: Stories by Jonathan Lethem

Sometimes, you realize that the artist who once changed your life is no longer speaking about you in the way you thought they once did.

Drug Wars: The Political Economy of Narcotics by Curtis Marez

You don't always have to agree with Marez's rigid Neo-Marxist critical methods to appreciate the value of this detailed historic-cultural study of the blatantly racist, imperialist roots of today's 'war on drugs'.

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