Another week, another book section to pore over. This week is just so-so. A couple of interesting picks tossed in with the usual stuff.
Hallie Ephron starts the ball rolling with her ‘On Crime‘ column where she discusses Oblivion by Peter Abrahams, Citizen Vince by Jess Walter, and Face Down Below the Banqueting House by Kathy Lynn Emerson. Whereas I enjoy Ephron’s writing style, I feel like she could have devoted the column to books that haven’t gotten reviewed everywhere else. Sarah Weinman’s a good example of someone who really reads the whole spectrum. Check out the right hand column on her page and you’ll see a good mix of books that you might not hear about elsewhere. The rest of the page is taken up with William Pritchard’s analysis of Sue Miller’s new book Lost in the Forest. Its a nice review with good insights.
Page 2 starts with a look at In My Brother’s Shadow: A Life and Death in the SS by Uwe Timm. Edith Pearlman finds it “remarkable” and “bitter”. And below is Gail Caldwell’s loving review of Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey, who is publishing his first novel at 67. “In fact it is the sensibility of an abundant inner life that defines Rules for Old Men Waiting, so rich and reasoned and full=blown that only time could have produced it.” And on the right Amanda Heller writes the ‘Short Takes‘ column this week, examining Fat Girl: A True Story, Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time by David Prerau, and Drives Like a Dream by Porter Shreve. I always like it when Amanda Heller takes the helm of the column. She writes succinct reviews, but at the same time, I’m never left feeling like I am missing something.
The first book mentioned on page 3 is Life Studies by Susan Vreeland, which incidentally came out in December. Why they decided to include this review I don’t know. Typical of a review of short stories Jessica Treadway spends much of it recapping the various stories. There was much to like about Michael Kenney’s look at The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-64 by local author Carol Bundy. He does more than just discuss Lowell’s life, but actually focuses on the Bundy’s book, which he says “is not just a model of historical research, but is also written with great style.”
I was surprised by the first review on page 4. It’s rare that the Globe takes a look at art books. But Christine Temin spends almost half a page on A Trick of the Eye: Trompe L’Oeil Masterpieces by Eckhard Hollmann and Jürgen Tesch. Below that James Sallis muses on books on Bluegrass music in this week’s ‘A Reading Life‘ column. And the review section concludes with ‘On Science‘ by Anthony Doerr. This week he looks at books written on Gödel.
All in all it was not a bad week for the BGBR. Like most papers, they tend to focus on non-fiction more than fiction. And the Globe has a tendency to review books written by local writers which can be both a blessing and a curse. But why review the Vreeland book? There’s plenty of other books worthy of reviewing. But alas, that is the eternal question, isn’t it?