Browsing: Book Reviews

Book Reviews
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Jess Winfield can boast of having written top-quality material that is teeming with bad behavior and totally inappropriate for children. But what has he been up to since his days at Disney? Winfield, a founding member of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, left the Mouse behind to pen My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakespeare. This debut work is a tempest of vices and villains, with more lewd laughs than you can shake a spear at.

Book Reviews
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Listen: When Ron Currie, Jr. awoke from troubled dreams one morning, he found that he had been transformed in his bed into an award-winning author.

Sort of. Ron’s transformation actually happened on the evening of April 30, 2008, when he was presented with the 2008 New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award in recognition of his debut novel, God is Dead (2007, Viking). The story is a believable account of mankind’s reaction to a devastating supernatural event (spoiler alert: God dies). At 33, Currie has already been compared to Kafka and Vonnegut.

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The main feature of Armageddon in Retrospect is a series of twelve previously unpublished pieces on the subjects of war and peace. In A Man Without a Country, Vonnegut talked about the many unsuccessful attempts he made to write about his experiences in World War II before completing Slaughterhouse-Five. It would be fair to assume that several of the writings included in Armageddon in Retrospect are the result of these attempts; whether or not the pieces are unsuccessful is a subject of greater debate.

Book Reviews
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Weird out your coffee table (and possibly your guests) with this collection of strange, sad, funny, or just plain messed-up deaths. Chapters include “Oops”, “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time”, “Deaths Foretold”, and “So Sexy It Hurts”. Each chapter is opened with a mortifying moment from the life of the author (who, fortunately, lived to see the publication).

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Bright Lights, Big Ass is a memoir of Jen Lancaster’s experiences as a writer in the city; or more precisely, a former VP who turns to temping while pursuing a career in writing (in the city). She learns that her high-end salary didn’t buy happiness (“…I realize I never had a professional job I didn‘t loathe on some level.”).

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Recent successes such as The Sopranos and Dexter illustrate that a protagonist doesn’t have to be just or admirable to be captivating. The hero needn’t be a hero; and Michael Cox’s man, Edward Glyver, certainly falls short of the title, but he is fascinating to witness. He’s a scholar; a bibliophile; he’s a man of passions. He’s a whoring laudanum abuser; a patron of opium dens; he’s a murderer. And he’s our narrator.

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Ishmael Beah was twelve years old when war invaded and abruptly ended his childhood in Sierra Leone. For four years he was swept into the atrocities of battle between rebel forces and the military, eventually being drafted into Sierra Leone’s army. At sixteen he was removed from the conflict by UNICEF and began the painful process of recovery. He has since gone on to become a college graduate, prominent speaker, and brilliant author. His narrative, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, is a heartbreaking and uplifting, harsh and tender, and moreover important account of the human soul and the effects of war.

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