Category Archives: Review Reviews

As Always, Julia edited by Joan Reardon

Reading Julia Child’s letters is such a treat! I wish I had known her and we could have corresponded by letter. Her personality shines through in her letters to Avis Devoto. They wrote about everything! Politics, literature, kitchen gadgets, nothing is off topic. You learn about the creation of MTAOFC which took many years. You also get a real sense of life during the McCarthy era, the anger and frustration of Americans. Plus, I love hearing about the new innovations–dishwashers, blenders, etc. It seems like a dark era in the American kitchen. Shallots were a luxury!

This book of letters is simply fantastic. It confirms Julia Child’s status as an American treasure in my book.

It Takes a Blogger…

Finally, a review of Shalom Auslander’s book Foreskin’s Lament that looks past the hilarity to the angst religion causes. So many reviewers make this memoir out like it’s a shallow dig at Orthodox Judaism—it’s not. It’s a caustic memoir written by someone who truly feels conflicted. Mark Sarvas (I swear I’m not mentioning this because he’s a fellow blogger. I read the review and didn’t notice who had written it until the end). Mark and I don’t always see eye to eye on books, but more often than not, our tastes overlap. I’m glad someone out there is truly representing this book.

Kakutani and Then Some

Marish Pessl’s debut novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics received a lot of press when it arrived on the shelves this August. Many of the reviews seemed favorable. Some have called the book overly clever and nothing but a literary trick. This week, my favorite local paper The Weekly Dig posted their own review. The subtitle of the piece says it all: “Deadly chick lit virus claims another victim”. Lest you think I’m trying to bring up the chick lit yay or nay discussion again, I’m merely pointing out the negativity of the review, not talking up the chick lit reference. I find this review so very interesting as it flies into the face of the anti-snarkiness that the Believer gang proselytize.

Someone Woke Up on the Wrong Side of Crazy Today

Seriously, what’s going on with Michiko? First AM Homes:

A. M. Homes’s dreadful new novel, “This Book Will Save Your Life,” reads like a cartoon illustration for a seminar on men and middle age — a pastiche of all that is hokey, hackneyed and New Agey in Robert Bly’s “Iron John” and Gail Sheehy’s “Understanding Men’s Passages.”

and now Philip Roth:

“Everyman,” the title of Philip Roth’s flimsy new novel, announces that the book’s hero is meant to be a sort of representational figure: an average Joe, an ordinary guy, an homme moyen sensuel…The problem is, this nameless fellow turns out to be generic, rather than universal: a faceless cutout of a figure who feels like a composite assembled from bits and pieces of earlier Roth characters. Spending time with this guy is like being buttonholed at a party by a remote acquaintance who responds to a casual “Hi, how are you?” with a half-hour whinge-fest about his physical ailments, medical treatments and spiritual complaints.

Shrinking Pages

I can’t believe it took me this long to notice this. I am hoping that it was just for this one Sunday The Boston Globe appears to be shrinking the entire Ideas section, which includes the Book Review. I had noticed that the Ideas part had lost a page a few weeks ago—what happened to the Joshua Glenn’s Examined Life column? And then this weekend the already short 4 page review section lost another page? Is this forever? I hope not. I don’t know what’s going on over at the Globe (other than the incompetance that allowed the printing out of thousands of subscribers credit card information and their distribution as “scraps” to Worcester including yours truly). Can anyone tell me what’s going on here?

They’re Not Completely Useless

The Globe surprised me this weekend with several interesting articles. Kate Bolick spoke with William Gass about his new book A Temple of Texts. And there was also this piece on Julia Kristeva, whose new book Murder in Byzantium is a detective novel (it came out in France in 2004, but the translation is just now available here). Of course, these articles appeared in the Ideas section, not in the Book Review, but I’ve also been informed that a new, promising column will be appearing sometime in March. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.