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Wednesday, August 13 2003

The Singular Objects of Architecture by Jean Baudrillard and Jean Nouvel

The loose focus of Nouvel and Baudrillard's discussion is the 'singular object': an irreducible, irreplaceable, transcendent cultural artifact.

The Only Good Thing Anybody Has Ever Done by Sandra Newman

It's a veritable cornucopia of global contemporary culture . . . If you've been in a coma for the last few decades or recently come from another planet, this book should be required reading.

Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

It has all the ingredients of a 'good' book: humor, fallibility, conflict, cynicism, fear, lust, creativity, and obstacles.

Wednesday, August 6 2003

Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not by Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert

But one of the most intriguing things about Amy Sedaris is her absolute lack of vanity. A gym-toned, beauty pageant blonde, she routinely adds pimples, hairs and warts to her pretty parts, wears fatty suits around town, and gleefully contorts herself in all sorts of grody ways. She's an enigma wrapped in a satire, wrapped in mock-irony, wrapped in a spoof.

Under the Banner of Heaven: The Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

The portrait of religion gone awry is a grim and harrowing one, where misogyny, racism, rape, incest, abuse and even murder can be justified, if ordered and sanctified by a personal God.

The Miraculous Fever Tree, Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World by Fiammetta Rocc

Rocco writes with a mature beauty and elegance that could be the polestar of any young writer of serious non-fiction.

Little Doors by Paul Di Filippo

Economics seem to have given genre writers the idea that if something is worth doing as a short story, you might as well stretch it out, pad it up and stitch it together as a novel. Glance around the bookstore and it seems like mere scraps of imagination that might fuel a short story are routinely transformed into an entire series.

Krakota: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester

It seems oddly appropriate that Winchester ends his book with a personal journey, for this is a work of deep personal significance to him. It is also a book of tremendous importance to our understanding of the place of humans in the natural landscape.

The British Working Class in Postwar Film by Philip Gillett

For in his sociological study of postwar Britain and the ways in which film portrayed the working class, the relationship between cinema as a means of popular entertainment and as a text is played out within the establishment of an historical context.

Wednesday, July 30 2003

The Psychology of War: Comprehending Its Mystique and Its Madness by Lawrence LeShan

LeShan is not a peacenik; he does not claim that war is never justified. He does argue, however, that mythic wars are dangerous. They impair people's ability to think rationally and make informed decisions.

Pie to Spoilt by Chong Tze Chien

Affluence, academic competitiveness, early successes (getting it all right by your early 30s), neuroses, conspiracy theories, and crass materialism are some of the themes, metaphors, metonyms, and descants explored by young Singaporean playwright, Chong Tze Chien.

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

The book flap suggests a mystery: ''strange clues' in their home: books rearranged on their shelves, a mysterious phone call, and other suggestions that nothing about Lexy's last afternoon was quite what it seemed.'' It's a great hook. If only the story were what it seemed.

Candy by Mian Mian

A rock 'n' roll drug addict love story that was banned by the government four months after it was first published but soon pirated versions appeared on the street and flourished.

Chaucer’s Queer Nation by Glenn Burger

In the end, Burger's argument hinges less on concrete examples of homosexuality in Chaucer's works, but rather, the notion of personalization in the writings, telling more about who a character is, and broader still, how a culture is defined.

Thursday, July 24 2003

Tin House

Rob Spillman, review by Jonathan Messinger -- It's possible, ostensibly, to judge a magazine solely on its sex issue -- if for no other reason than it's the most fun for the reviewer.

What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News by Eric Alterman

The image of the 'hack,' the gruff, curmudgeonly, cigar-chomping, semi-alcoholic journalist of yesteryear who battered away mercilessly on his typewriter and rubbed everybody the wrong way (especially the societal elite who saw no profession as unworthy as journalism), has all but vanished.

The Wave and Other Stories by Caren Gussoff

Caren Gussoff's short stories map feminine experience of contemporary reality from the inside, and offer jolting rides through disturbed, damaged lives and minds. Her fictional worlds are fractured by emotional pain, criss-crossed by barely-healed scar tissue, gnarled and knotted by frustrated desires and thwarted ambitions.

Pearl of Perlis: Perlis State Park Guide by Editors: Kasim Osman, Rahimatsah Amat and Surin Suksuwan

The general impression given by this book (for better or worse) is a sense of nostalgia and a strong urge to visit the place before everything disappears into oblivion.

The Low End of Higher Things by David Clewell

Author of six poetry collections, winner of the National Poetry Series, and professor of writing and literature at Webster University, Clewell celebrates this quirky adventure we call life, and does it with grace, style and aplomb.

Cinema’s Missing Children by Emma Wilson

The ascent of the vanished child to the level of national preoccupation is nothing new to film scholar Emma Wilson, who has been tracking the phenomenon in both Europe and the United States for years. Wilson, a professor at Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University, contends that images of missing children have become among the most predominant and haunting in western art, particularly in film.

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