book reviews

Apologies for those that have slipped through the cracks of the internet.

2015
LA Times. Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
Cultural polymath Rushdie is in top form with this Scherezade riff of jinn (genies) wrecking havoc on our world

LA Times. The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion by Tracy Daugherty
What’s good about the new Joan Didion biography? Nothing. Nothing at all.

LA Times. A Hanging at Cinder Bottom by Glenn Taylor
Like Bonnie & Clyde 20 years earlier in West Virginia during the coal boom.

LA Times. Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret
If I could get you to read one writer, it would be Etgar Keret. This is his first memoir.

LA Times. The Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksander Hemon
Hemon channels an American everyman-boy for an After Hours-like adventure (with zombies)

LA Times. The Blondes by Emily Schultz
Blonde women rampage madly in a pulpy thriller for feminists

LA Times. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
This companion to Life after Life is, sadly, no Life after Life

LA Times. I Am Radar by Reif LArsen
An ambitious novel by a gifted storyteller

LA Times. Whipping Boy by Allen Kurzweill
A grown man tracks down the bully of his childhood

LA Times. Sophia by Anita Anand
The fascinating story of a Victorian Indian princess turned activist

2014
LA Times. 10:04 by Ben Lerner.
An artful look at life in contemporary literary NY that spends an awful lot of time on Ben Lerner

LA Times. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Rises and meets the legacy of Cloud Atlas.

LA Times. The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai
It’s a lot of fun.

LA Times. West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 by Claudio Saunt
Forget the colonies: Elsewhere in North America in our revolutionary year

LA Times. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling
If Rowling had as much fun writing this mystery as I did reading it, she had a blast

LA Times. Lovers at the Chameleon Club, 1932 by Francine Prose
Not so good.

2013
LA Times. Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
It’s Pynchon, for pete’s sake.

LA Times. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
It’s great.

LA Times. Jacob’s Folly by Rebecca Miller
It’s great.

LA Times. The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
The narrator’s Asperger’s comes across as more gimmick than essential, and this promising dystopia fails to unfold in surprising ways.

2012
LA Times. Joyce Chaplin’s Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit
A lively charge through 500 years of worldwide exploration (and beyond).

LA Times. Louise Erdrich’s The Round House.
Meh.

LA Times. Margaret Talbot’s The Entertainer: Movies, Magic and My Father’s 20th Century
In The Entertainer, New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot succeeds at what Hollywood failed to do for her father: She makes him a star.

LA Times. Justin Cronin’s The Twelve
Short version: The first book of the trilogy was great; this one slows down, and starts to fall apart.

LA Times. J. Robert Lennon’s The Familiar
A quiet novel as tightly wound as a great Alfred Hitchcock film.

LA Times. May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes
Ambitious, with brilliant dark humor, a careening plot, sex-strewn suburbs and a massive cast of memorable characters, but undermined by sentimentality.

LA Times. Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
Telegraph Avenue is so exuberant, it’s as if Michael Chabon has pulled joy from the air and squeezed it into the shape of words.

LA Times. Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf and The End of Men – and the Rise of Women by Hannah Rosin
The only thing I regret about this review is not having enough room to properly describe the awfulness of Naomi Wolf’s Vagina. (Zoe Heller did that superbly in the NY Review of Books).

LA Times. Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis.
Blech.

LA Times. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Delightful.

LA Times. Dead Stars by Bruce Wagner
Manic text of wanna be-reality stars, paparazzo and porn – a logical extension of edgy art? Although sometimes grueling to read, this book succeeds at lampooning where Amis’ fails.

LA Times. Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton A memoir that’s beautiful as well as graceful.

LA Times. People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry
A dark, unforgettable story, masterfully told.