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Reviews > Books

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.


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.


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