Book Reviews Archive

Blue Nights

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Blue Nights Joan Didion Alfred A. Knopf, November 2011 208 pages $25.00 This post was written by Jaya Aninda Chatterjee. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” wrote author and cultural critic Joan Didion in The White Album, her chronicle of the revolutionary politics of the 1960s and ’70s.

The Ecstasy of Influence

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The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc. Jonathan Lethem Doubleday, November 2011 464 pages $27.95 Have you ever found, after a long trip with a friend, that you’ve grown tired of their voice? That approximates how I felt after reading Jonathan Lethem’s most recent collection of prose, The Ecstasy of

The Forgotten Waltz

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The Forgotten Waltz Anne Enright W.W. Norton and Company, October 2011 259 pages $15.95 This post was written by Caitlin O’Neil Amaral. For a second-generation Irish American like me, whose family has turned the old sod into a mythical land of sorrow and song, Anne Enright is a bracing

Lightning Rods

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Lightning Rods Helen DeWitt New Directions, Oct. 2011 $24.95 I tried describing Lightning Rods to my brother like this: “The book is about Joe, a salesman who sells glory holes and makes them a standard fixture in the bathroom stalls of corporate offices across America.” He grimaced. “This was

Tolstoy: A Russian Life

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Tolstoy: A Russian Life Rosamund Bartlett Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 2010 560 pages $35 Tolstoy biographers almost have too much material to work with. Unlike Dickens, Tolstoy didn’t burn any of his 8,500 letters; unlike Hardy, he didn’t destroy large portions of his diaries. Instead, he carefully preserved all

Aftermath

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Aftermath Scott Nadelson Hawthorne Books, September 2011 $15.95 288 pages This post was written by Karen Sikola. There are days when everything seems unnervingly connected—when every song your iPod shuffles up seems determined to make sense of your current tribulations, when the top story on the evening news mirrors

Love and Capital

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Love and Capital Mary Gabriel Little, Brown and Company, September 2011 768 pages $35.00 When Simon Montefiore reviewed Mary Gabriel’s recent, frighteningly expansive Karl Marx biography in the New York Times last month, he was generally complimentary—but for the wrong reasons. You see, Montefiore came at the book as

From the Observatory

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From the Observatory Julio Cortázar Trans. Anne McLean Archipelago Books, August 2011 130 pages $18.00 The first time I read Julio Cortázar’s From the Observatory, I thought I’d succumbed to a fever-dream. Eels slip, muscularly, into Möbius strips; the night is red-haired and the marble cold. I had no

The Vices

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The Vices Lawrence Douglas Other Press, August 2011 352 pages $15.95 This post was written by Walt McGough. The title family of Lawrence Douglas’ The Vices is a slowly decaying assortment of upper-crust oddballs, whose creatively rendered foibles sometimes resemble an alternate version of The Royal Tenenbaums. Older brother

You Deserve Nothing

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You Deserve Nothing Alexander Maksik Europa Editions, August 2011 336 pages $15.00 Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: a handsome young teacher inspires great passion in the classroom; the guys want to be him, and the girls want to be with him. There’s an affair, scandal, loss