Monday, May 16, 2005

New Book Roundup: March/April 2005

Another two months, hundreds more book reviews. I read Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. Here's what looked good to me.


Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
Great reviews for this quirky collection of creative economic thinking applied to some unorthodox problems. His work connecting abortion and lowering crime rates pissed everyone off a few years back.

Borges and the Eternal Orangutans by Luis Fernando Verissimo
I recently read the Poe short stories that basically invented detective fiction and somewhat influenced Doyle's superior Holmes stories. In this story: Murder at an Edgar Allan Poe symposium. Jorge Luis Borges plays detective. Sounds like just the alternative to Dan Brown I've been looking for.

Oblivion by Peter Abrahams
An incredible review for this thriller from Joyce Carol Oates in The New Yorker got my attention, but I've yet to even see this book in a store.

Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson
I read an excerpt from this in the NYTimes as well as a couple reviews. Really interesting contrarian argument.

Stradivari's Genius: Five Violins, One Cello, and Three Centuries of Enduring Perfection by Toby Faber
"Faber's narrative, each of the six fabled instruments becomes a character in its own right" - sounds fun to follow the true histories of these prized instruments whose lives are longer than any man's.


History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
Another interesting history from the author of The Victorian Internet, which I loved. World history as refracted through 6 drinks: beer, wine, whiskey, coffee, tea and soda pop.

That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation ed. by Matt Bernstein Sycamore
The forces of assimilation have never been stronger, so this brave little book's title grabbed my eye.

Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide by Michael Steinberg
Guitar: An American Life by Tim Brookes
Steinberg's book is third in a series. Earlier guides: The Symphony, The Concerto. Brookes' excellently reviewed history has a chapter on Hawaiian slack key style.

Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat by Edward McPherson
Films of Makhmalbaf : Cinema, Politics and Culture in Iran by Eric Egan
Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman
New film books. Good luck finding the Makhmalbaf book--I couldn't find it online.

Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence by Tim Parks

Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn

Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick

A Mirror In The Roadway: Literature And The Real World by Morris Dickstein
One section compares Dreiser's versus Sinclair's Chicago.

From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler

Piano Girl: Lessons in Life, Music, and the Perfect Blue Hawaiian by Robin Meloy Goldsby
Memoir of a cocktail lounge performer.

The Letters of Robert Lowell ed. by Saskia Hamilton

The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf by William C. Davis
Ooh! Pirates. Real ones. American ones.

Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- And What It Means To Be Human by Joel Garreau

The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine by Rudolph Chelminski

Crossworld: One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession by Marc Romano

H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life by Michel Houellebecq

War's End: Profiles from Bosnia 1995-1996 by Joe Sacco
New work from an acclaimed graphic novelist, author of The Fixer.

How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar by William Safire
They ran an excerpt of this when Safire signed off the Times op-ed page. Pure gold.

The Woman from Hamburg and Other True Stories by Hanna Krall
"12 genre-bending pieces, all shadowed by the brutal facts of the Holocaust."

Race of the Century: The Heroic True Story of the 1908 New York-to-Paris Auto Race by Julie M. Fenster
8: 55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie by Andrew Eames

The Stargazing Year: A Backyard Astronomer's Journey through the Seasons of the Night Sky by Charles Laird Calia

How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

American Gothic: A Life of America's Most Famous Painting by Steven Biel

FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication by Neil A. Gershenfeld

Augustine: A New Biography by James J. O'Donnell


The First Verse by Barry McCrea
"[E]explores Dublin's every corner, including...its thriving gay nightlife, through the eyes of a young man seduced by a secret society's ancient reading rituals." !?

Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
Book about psychics that's probably the most buzz-gifted book on this fiction list.

The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes by Caleb Carr
Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King
Two more Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Carr's was panned, but King's is the seventh in a highly acclaimed series.

What We Do Is Secret by Thorn Kief Hillsbery
"It's been months since the suicide of Darby Crash, L.A. punk rock icon and lead singer of the Germs. He checked out on the same day John Lennon was shot: December 8, 1980. But for Rockets Redglare, it feels like yesterday. Darby was the hot-as-sun center of Rockets's world. Part ringleader, part god, and all charismatic manipulator, Darby was as close to family as a hustler and street kid like Rockets might ever get."

House of Thieves by Kaui Hart Hemmings
"A dusty, dreamy Hawaii rife with sexual frustration, loneliness and adolescent heartbreak is the setting for the nine stories of Hemmings's bold debut collection. "

Acts of Faith by Philip Caputo
Widely praised (though will it be widely read?) story of Africa being compared to Conrad.

Canaan's Tongue by John Wray
Pre-Civil War story of escaped slaves, gangs, and, well, I'm not sure I get it, but it's been compared to Cormac McCarthy. There was a fun piece in the Times about how this author took a raft down the Mississippi River and stopped and did readings on the shore. I love Twain's Life on the Mississippi.

That Anvil of Our Souls: A Novel of the Monitor and the Merrimack by David Poyer

The Magic Keys by Albert Murray
Rave from Kirkus for this author's work.

Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley
"On a stormy night at Lord Byron's Swiss villa, Mary Shelley challenged her host, her husband and herself to write a ghost story. Mary's, of course, became Frankenstein. Byron supposedly soon gave up his-but, Crowley asks, what if he didn't?"

Record Palace by Susan Wheeler
Set in Chicago in the 1970s. Great cover design.

Sonechka: A Novella and Stories by Liudmila Ulitskaia

The Writing on the Wall by Lynne Sharon Sharon Schwartz
A 9/11 fiction I haven't been reading much about.

Love Creeps by Amanda Filipacchi
Stalkers in love.

The Well of Stars by Robert Reed
SF sequel that sounds interesting.

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow
From Mr.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
New book from one of the hippest squares around. An event.

Twins of TriBeCa by Rachel Pine
Badly reviewed roman a clef written by a former Miramax junior staffer.



Post a Comment

<< Home