Book Reviews

Memoirs and More Memoirs

In the last decade, publishers have brought a plethora of memoirs to the reading public, but as New York Times critic William Grimes asks, "We all have a life. Must we all write about it?"

Here's his analysis, which includes authors from the sublime to the ridiculous to the ordinary, with subject matter from the traumatic-memory memoir, to the vanished-era memoir to the sexual-exploit memoir.


Persepolis: an extraordinary achievement

Submitted by Cortez. Highlighting Persepolis and Persepolis 2.

Iranian illustrator Marjane Satrapi has documented her life in prose and pictures from comfortable childhood before the revolution to an exile and a return to Iran. From (April 7, 2005):
"The art department of her university in Tehran, under the supervision of mullahs, was forbidden to offer traditional anatomy classes. Female models posed covered head to toe in sheets like black chadors, while male models were allowed to pose in marginally more revealing street clothes. When Satrapi, an indefatigable student, stays late to draw a seated male model, she is challenged by a supervisor, who tells her it is against the moral code for her to look at the man she is drawing. When she asks with incredulous flippancy if she should look instead at the door while drawing the man, the supervisor replies, 'Yes.'"


Vanity or sanity?

Anonymous Patron writes "While "vanity" and other variations of self-publishing are often looked down upon, it's still a way to get into print. But those with hopes of leveraging their books into something bigger face a tough reality.

The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report Has a good look at How three local authors took books from concept to customer in the hit-or-miss world of self-publishing."


Authors recommend favorite books for romance

teaperson writes "The Christian Science Monitor asks authors to tell what they read on Valentine's Day. The authors include Garrison Keillor, Anita Shreve, Dan Chaon and many others. Choices range from Henry James to Pablo Neruda to Mark Ruff."


Highbrow literature prize to get a $$$ makeover

JET spotted a Guardian Piece on the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes.They say outside the world of the highbrow literary cognoscenti, few have heard of the awards, despite the fact that they are the UK's oldest and, many would argue, most prestigious. Now one man armed with a grand vision and a plan to increase the prize money fivefold is aiming to take them out of the shadows.


Are literature prizes good for fiction?

JET sent over Eyes on the prizes from The Guardian Books Section. They say Like acting, writing novels is a profession in which not to be very successful is to be very unsuccessful.
Ninety per cent of fiction is crap and deserves no medals. But 90% of everything is crap. In the top non-crap tier, the novel is the only place nowadays where one is likely to find any grown-up discussion of race. In America, that discussion is conducted by writers such as Tom Wolfe (bronze), Philip Roth (silver) and Toni Morrison (gold).


The origin of book reviews

The origin of book reviews is from The Scotsman archive, in 1879. "THE newspaper book reviewers in 1879 had no time for frivolous literature. Included with the extracts below were ponderous comments on socialism, the elements of dynamics and a student’s commentary on the Bible."


The Da Vinci Crock

The Noisy Librarian writes " provides a scathing indictment of the popular novel, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown:

'A cozy situation for Brown, but it became somewhat less so recently when, in the U.K., a lawsuit was filed against him for "breach of copyright of ideas and research." The complainants, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, are the coauthors, with Henry Lincoln, of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," a bestseller from the early 1980s. Virtually all the bogus history in "The Da Vinci Code" -- nearly everything, in other words, that today's readers' find so electrifying in Brown's novel -- is lifted from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail."'

The site requires membership, but you can get a day pass by watching a short ad. Hey, at least you don't have to surrender your address or birth year!"


A librarian saves books from bombs

Anonymous Patron writes "A librarian saves books from bombs is a book review of "Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq" by Mark Alan Stamaty. In 2003, after the United States and its allies invaded Iraq, the National Museum in Baghdad was looted and many ancient art treasures were lost. But in the weeks leading up to the invasion, a different kind of treasure was saved, thanks to a heroic effort spearheaded by an Iraqi woman."


Last-minute shopping ideas

teaperson writes "The Christian Science Monitor reviews two games for book-lovers: Booktastic, and Trivial Pursuit Book Lover's Edition."

Am I the only one who needs to go shopping or risk sleeping on the couch for the remainder of the year?



Subscribe to Book Reviews