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Tuesday, February 24 2004

Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill by Jessica Stern

Perhaps the most telling sentence in the book is at the very beginning: 'Religious terrorism arises from pain and loss and from impatience with a God who is slow to respond to our plight, who doesn't answer.'"

Oracle Night by Paul Auster

It provokes such interrogation in a way that other novels don't, as if we can legitimately expect so much more from a writer who consistently delivers less, and who has made the theme of 'lessness' his own defining quality.

Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard

Occasionally, Tim's voice is less 19th century London and more League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn - And Why They Need to Play More and

If you find yourself scolding your daughter, 'Come on, that's a ankylosaurus. You know that one,' it's time to take a breath.

Absolute Friends by John Le Carrè

By the end of the narrative, one has the impression of having watched a rousing round of the old board game Risk.

Monday, February 9 2004

Natalie Wood: A Life by Gavin Lambert

Wood wasn't being typecast into roles; she was playing the roles that her life demanded she play: orphaned child, repressed teenager, inflamed young adult and despairing woman.

Forced March by Miklós Radnóti, translated by George Gömöri and Clive Wilmer

One of the functions of poetry is to express the unthinkable mixture of the horrific, the tragic and the banal that constitutes such a biography. The remarkable power of Radnóti's poems is that they succeed, repeatedly, in doing so.

The Darkest Clearing by Brian Railsback

Here, then, is the question that Railsback, like one of those campus environmentalists, begs you to consider: Is the protection of nature worth the forfeit of innocent human lives?"

Coyote Waits by Tony Hillerman

While the solution to the mystery lies within Navajo culture and several of the main characters are Native Americans, one finishes the book feeling as though the culture has been more alluded to than explored.

Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather by Gao Xingjian

Gao eschews both plot and poeticism -- leaving some to wonder what else there is -- and the resulting work is curiously opaque.

Tuesday, February 3 2004

The Wrestling Party by Bett Williams

Williams's book encourages a sense of the everyday and normal, enough so as to remove binary distinctions like us/them and queer/straight from the start.

The Wisdom of Solitude: A Zen Retreat in the Woods by Jane Dobisz

Soon, however, I realized the two books are companions, both asking one question: What is suffering and how does religion or philosophy or a person's own reality shape his or her suffering?"

The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

Mosley has created an unlikely and awkward pair, clumsily dancing around each other with the steps of a fool drunk on fleeting knowledge and even more fleeting power.

The Floating Book by Michelle Lovric

It is in the historic tradition of the historical novel that Lovric includes assurances that we are not reading some bodice-ripping yarn with nothing more than costumes to distinguish it from fantastically tame pornography.

Consuming the American Landscape by John Ganis

It's the split between mind and body at the center of Western civilization's ill-fated attempt under technocratic reason to rule over all things which Ganis's photographs seek to repair.

Wednesday, January 28 2004

The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe

It's also a book that comes into this world with incredible weight on its shoulders. Not only does it have to fight off a kind of TV Movie of the Week stigma, there's the bad taste caused by previous novels tackling similar territory.

The Return of the King Visual Companion by Jude Fisher

It's obvious that Fisher was torn between giving a straightforward account of the film's plot and wanting to stay true to the awe and poetry in Tolkien's own masterwork.

The Movies of My Life by Alberto Fuguet

Movies, to a child, are almost always about seeing imagination played out on the big screen. Yet, there's little imagination in Fuguet's story structure.

Death’s Showcase: The Power of Image in Contemporary Democracy by Ariella Azoulay

The notion of war as a literary construct, as well as a very real one, which can be coloured by surprise, tactic, rules, or none of the above, is presented, not only in words, but through extraordinary photographic images.

The Book of Repulsive Women and Other Poems by Djuna Barnes

Barnes writes in a curiously anachronistic style, in which content jars against form, as if children's nursery rhymes were refilled with material purged by centuries of prurient censorship, and made vibrant, living things again.

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