Boston Globe Round-Up

There’s much to cheer about as well as much to lament in this past Sunday’s Book Review. On the one hand, we’ve got Gail Caldwell’s beautiful essay and some well-written reviews. On the other hand, most of the reviews of books that came out 3 or more months ago. I’ve included the pub date of each book after the title and author just so you don’t think I am crazy. So follow me after the jump…

First, we have Hallie Ephron’s ‘On Crime‘ column which covers Field of Blood by Denise Mina (7/6/05), Long Time Gone by J.A. Jance (7/28/05), and Three Can Keep a Secret by Judy Clemens (7/1/05). All good and fine. The rest of the page contains Gail Caldwell’s essay ‘The Third Eye‘, which examines how though movies and television aren’t bad, reading really asks for a less-passive role. You can inhabit a character or imagine a scene anyway you want. It’s one of the best things the Globe has published in ages.

On the next page, John Dicker leads with his review of Chuck Klosterman’s book Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story (6/28/05). I am not a Klosterman fan and I will admit that I thought the book sounded hokey, but what do I know. Dicker finds the book lacking in a lot of areas though, claiming that “even for a rock critic, much of his rambling is oppressively indulgent.” Below this is a review of Envy by Kathryn Harrison (7/12/05). Sandra Shea should win a prize for being the only reviewer of this book I’ve seen to date that actually provides an a examination rather than spending the whole space on Harrison’s well-know past history. The review is thoughtful and honest. Amanda Heller provides us with this week’s ‘SShort Takes‘. She’s read A Way From Home by Nancy Clark (6/7/05), The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick (7/19/05), and Brain Work by Michael Guista(6/14/05).

Page 3 starts with a look at Jeanette Winterson’s latest Lighthousekeeping (3/24/05). Continuing the theme of thoughtful reviews, John Freeman balances both the good and the bad and says that Winterson never takes the easy route with her writing. The rest of the page is devoted to Stephen Sears review of What Caused the Civil War?: Reflections on the South and Southern History (6/1/05). “This highly informative book will not supply all the answers about the Civil War era, but surely it asks most of the right questions.”

The final page begins with a look at Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk (6/7/05). Elif Shafak likes Pamuk’s writing, calling his descriptions of Istanbul “insightful, eclectic, whimsical, and didactic.” He also comments on Pamuk’s sense of alienation that comes through in the book. Below, we find Thirty Imrigar’s review of The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh (4/4/05). Umrigar finds much to praise in this “subdued” novel. We end this week with Caroline Leavitt’s ‘A Reading Life‘ column. She looks back at ground-breaking women’s lib novels, The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe and The Diary of a Mad Housewife by Sue Kaufmann. Both have been recently reissued and Leavitt looks at why these books were so big when they were published. It’s a great examination of modern classics.

And there you have it. This week’s Book Review section. Lest you think I am just some crank, I did enjoy reading this week’s reviews. All had something extra this week, which is why I think the Globe was toying with me. Why can’t they have reviews of this caliber every week? And why can’t they review books a bit more recent? I just want them to be everything I know they can be. For such a literate city, we have one of the worst review sections in the country. So, yes, I am a crank.

One thought on “Boston Globe Round-Up

  1. birnbaum

    Right on vis a vis Tex Caldwell’s essay.

    I was and am afraid that the mediocrity of the Globe book coverage has made it dismissable and thus Caldwell and Kate Powers who occupy first chairs in the literary orchestra are overlooked.

    Gail’s piece is a heart felt and smart assessment of the fears of the death of literacy & literature. Perhaps instead of spending inordinate time sifting the ashes of James Wood’s entrails (whom one editor opined, was like an auto mechanic who couldn’t drive) some attention might be paid to other voices in other rooms.

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