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Tuesday, April 6 2004

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.

Hollywood Animal: A Memoir by Joe Eszterhas

As in most of Eszterhas' scripts that have become films, the reader becomes the fly-on-the-wall voyeur who witnesses a succession of lurid, amoral and diabolical events.

Ghosts of 42nd Street: A History of America’s Most Infamous Block by Anthony Bianco

Once subjected to the demands of cultural history that requires attention to more substantial influences than individual lives -- forces like patterns of migration and economic flux - the book comes up wanting.

Demonized by Christopher Fowler

All this is in the way of arguing that, in the hands of a writer like Fowler, the short story affords space for the exploration of contemporary fears.

Wednesday, March 3 2004

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

The novel sees Koontz damning the young person's world without taking the time to explore it from any angle other than that alluded to by school shootings and rap music.

How to Breathe Underwater: Stories by Julie Orringer

Though we swear we have seen it all before, Orringer does deliver something new in her novel. It's a sense of female solidarity that she weaves between plots of mothers, daughters, aunts, cousins and friends.

An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof

They congratulate themselves when they go ashore, thinking themselves more travelers than the tourists anchored around them, but one suspects that most of the other cruisers see themselves in precisely the same way.

Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemption by Michael W. Cuneo

Cuneo attempts to find some sort of redemptive resolution to the tale. Mease may have been one of Missouri's most feared killers in a generation, but in the end, he found God and was saved by a man of God.

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.

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