Boston’s Embarassment or the Boston Globe Book Review

*Yawn* Sorry, I almost fell asleep reading this past Sunday’s Globe Book Review. I am taking a page from Mark’s book. I found this week’s section too boring to even get annoyed. It’s just so lackluster in my opinion.

Diane White reviews 3 books in her monthly ‘Pop Lit‘ column: Homesick Creek, Envy, and Rococo. Sorry, I am just not interested in any of these books and her column does nothing to change my mind. William Reno has the lead review, covering Martin Meredith’s timely The Fate of Africa: Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair–A History of 50 Years of Independence. Now this is an important book. It chronicles the “causes and consequences of failure” in one book. This is one review this week that I found well-written and also made me want to read.

Bill Littlefield usually writes a column on sports related books. This week he has a full length review of She’s Got Next: A Story of Getting In, Staying Open, and Taking a Shot by Melissa King. I like his first paragraph and the review is nice, but it still didn’t drum up any excitement for me. Nor did Jessica Treadway’s review of 72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell. Campbell’s book fills a void for the African-American community in that it breaks the silence of families living with mental illness. I’ve read many reviews of this book, which sounds interesting. This one, however, I found clunky and poorly written. Barbara Fisher’s ‘Short Takes‘ column looks at No Direction Home, Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House by Sally Gable with Carl Gable, and The Difference Between Women and Men: Stories by Bret Lott. In the 3 short paragraphs she is allowed for each book, none are made to sound like particularly appealing books. (I’m sick of books by people who’ve moved to Italy and discovered life.)

Katherine Power’s ruminations in ‘A Reading Life‘ are usually one of the highlights. Maybe it’s because I was so bored with the rest of the section that it tainted my reading, but I wasn’t that impressed with this weeks column. And Carol Wolff’s ‘Graphic Novels‘ column was uninspiring. Sure, I know I should be grateful that they even gave space (and color printing) to graphic novels, but why can’t they be reviewed like regular books? Doesn’t Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes or War’s End: Profiles From Bosnia 1995-96 by Joe Sacco deserve a full review?

And the last page of the section? They wasted almost half a page on an ad (I know this helps pay for the review space, but c’mon!) and the Bookings/Local Bestsellers columns. The main review on the page is one of many writers wondering why John Irving deals with the same themes over and over and over again. I get it. He repeats himself (much like I do here every week). This review was so dry I had to slap myself several times to pay attention. And the last column is Naomi Rand’s ‘Self Help‘. Enough said.

I’m going to get myself in trouble here and say that I think the Boston Globe‘s Book Review section is an embarrassment to Boston. We’re supposedly famous at a literary city—many, many fine authors lived and died and continue to live here. And this is what we get for book coverage. (I shouldn’t be surprised. I just looked at the Boston.com website and the main item under News was a review of a reality show that purports to scare teens straight. Really, that’s what they consider newsworthy. Not Rove the liar liar pants on fire or the truck bomb that killed 27 today.)

One thought on “Boston’s Embarassment or the Boston Globe Book Review

  1. Sheila Slake

    I like Murakami a lot. Will have to check out Thomson’s new book. My tastes tend toward gritty realism–Ray Carver, Richard Ford. I like Coetzee a lot. In terms of undiscovered writers, check out Nathan Leslie’s work as well.

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