Reviews > Books

6 Jun 2006 // 12:00 AM

The Disappointment Artist by Jonathan Lethem

As the Eggerses and Safran Foers of the literary hype machine take childlike pranksterdom and surreal folk tales to often dazzling, uncharted heights, Lethem writes from a less ambitious but no less affecting point, imbuing well-worn genres with an almost paralyzing intimacy.

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The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley

It's fairly safe to say that in a time of crisis, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin isn't the guy whom you'd want responsible for your well-being.

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2 Jun 2006 // 12:00 AM

They Played the Game, Vol. 1 by Stephen Randall

If They Played the Game only gave a mirror to those who make a living with play this would be an adequate collection, but there are moments of pure wonder and delight that have nothing to do with the field.

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The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley

The historian's customary irony is replaced with the assumed fatalism of the Norse themselves, for whom death was a harsh fact of daily existence. The effect is monumental, and carries the burnished authenticity of a long-lost epic.

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31 May 2006 // 12:00 AM

American Purgatorio by John Haskell

This set up is near-identical to George Sluizer's 1991 film, The Vanishing whose first scenes depict a woman disappearing while at a roadside service center.

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This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes

In any city except Los Angeles such characters grouped together might seem ridiculous, yet one of the ways in which this city undermines fiction is that it defies all attempts to invent the improbable.

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We Are Billion Year Old Carbon: A Tribal-Love-Rock-Novel Set in the Sixties on an Outpost Planet Cal

It's like a psych-rock album, reveling in its pretensions and subverting the dominant systems (in this case, narrative linearity) as it breaks the form.

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The Politics of Small Things: The Power of the Powerless in Dark Times by Jeffrey C. Goldfarb

Goldfarb examines the day-to-day connections between people that help them escape isolation, loneliness and despair, the very things Arendt identifies as seeds of the terror that totalitarianism reaps.

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25 May 2006 // 12:00 AM

Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen

As far as I know, Cohen isn't dying of anything other than the slow death of the existentialist, but there are portions of Book of Longing that read with the calmness of somebody who's reached Kubler-Ross' last stage: acceptance.

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24 May 2006 // 12:00 AM

Mexican Days: Journeys Into the Heart of Mexico by Tony Cohan

Cohan links himself with eccentrics and outcasts, all engaged together in an endeavor that is arguably futile, all devoting their lives to the pursuit of Mexico.

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23 May 2006 // 12:00 AM

Everyman is of a piece with Roth's oeuvre and yet somehow distinct and unique.

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22 May 2006 // 12:00 AM

The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houllebecq

Like Daniel, Houllebecq is a wounded animal lashing out in fear at the unfathomable mysteries of existence.

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19 May 2006 // 12:00 AM

March by Geraldine Brooks

March's lessons can be taken on board by any liberal concerned by conservatives gaining ground in the 'culture wars'.

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Family and Other Accidents by Shari Goldhagen

Losing his virginity becomes an issue of cleaning up, rather than some crash-bang moment of adult discovery.

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Andy Kaufman: Wrestling with the American Dream by Florian Keller

Andy Kaufman was not a traditional comedian, actor, or performance artist. He was a silly and many times ominous provocateur, instead.

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Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyon

It is a book that will pummel your boundaries of acceptability if you don't keep an open mind. But it is an artifact that we, as a culture, should digest and ponder.

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Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock by Andrew Beaujon

Are the bands or the fans cognizant of the Orwellian perversion of Jesus' teachings of love and acceptance that institutionalized evangelism has perpetrated?"

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In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

Murakami plays with space and culture, shedding light on the lack of personal space by drawing the reader into the claustrophobic world of the story's narrator, Kenji, then mimicking the desire to get away from the pervasive presence of a horrific American sociopath named Frank.

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Lockpick Pornography by Joey Comeau

You have to admire the guy's chutzpah and directness, and love the fact that he's utterly circumventing the 'norms' of how one is a success in the publishing world.

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10 May 2006 // 12:00 AM

Black Hole by Charles Burns

It's Dazed and Confused meets X-Men by way of whatever schlock horror film is at the multiplex this week -- only, you know, without any of the subtext you would usually find in a Richard Linklater film, an X-Men comic book, or your average horror movie.

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