Book Reviews

NYT: Raucous New Novel, "The Librarian"

Blake first gave us an inkling of this story last Thursday in which the NYT Times reviewer mentioned that "librarians were soon to go the way of blacksmiths and town criers, their chosen field made obsolete by Internet search engines and self-perpetuating electronic databases".

The Sunday New York Times Book Review (now online) has Neil Genzlinger's take on Larry Beinhart's new novel, ''The Librarian,'' in which a "Dewey decimal doofus" holds in his hands nothing less than the fate of the free world. By the author who brought us "American Hero", the novel that became the film "Wag the Dog", Beinhart's latest is also a take-off on a current U.S. President, a certain "Augustus Winthrop Scott" --a man from a privileged family, with a dubious record of National Guard service and rich and powerful business backers. Hmmm.

The book involves a plot in which the incumbent puts into place a "steal the election" plan after he loses a debate and a lot of voter support.

Genzlinger says of the book "The story is outlandish fun, but it carries with it a serious critique of the electoral process, the American power structure and the real-life conduct of both President Bush and the news media." Here's the review.


Kirkus Reviews sell out?

teaperson writes "The Christian Science Monitor's book editor, Ron Charles, reports on two new programs from Kirkus Reviews, which will let publishers buy placement in new publications. Self-published authors can get a review for $350.

The second new product is Kirkus Reports, set to appear early next month. It highlights titles that the editors feel are the best lifestyle books (health, parenting, personal finance). But to be included in this free e-mail newsletter for magazine and newspaper journalists, publishers must pay $95 per title.

Ron will NOT be selling his reviews."


AlterNet: MediaCulture: Kitty's Litter

Fang-Face writes "There is
a very interesting review of Kitty Kelley's latest book. To synopsize:

As a book, The Family will merely affirm the worst suspicions of both those who hate George Bush and those who hate the Evil New York Liberal Media. But a few people who aren't too fond of the president might just change their minds. If you are the kind of person who roots for the monster in horror movies, expect to come away from The Family as a devoted Bush fan.

The whole of the piece is a back-handed compliment to Kelley. I think."


Southern Author Pens a Library Love Story

Author, professor and minister RHETT ELLIS (how Southern is that?) lives in Monroeville, Alabama, hometown of one of America's finest novelists, author Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird).

It is there that he was bitten by the library bug. It is there that he teaches Ethics at Alabama Southern Community College and preaches on Sunday in his Baptist church. It is there that he wrote his third book, "How I Fell In Love With a Librarian and Lived to Tell About It."

"How I Fell In Love With a Librarian and Lived To Tell About It" (Sparkling Bay Books, February 2004) is available from all major booksellers, including Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. ISBN softcover: 097063140; hardcover: 0967063159.


A dance at the edge of America's rage

Anonymous Patron writes "A dance at the edge of America's rage is a Detroit Free Press review/interview of the deeply unsettling "Checkpoint" by every librarian's favorite author Nicholson Baker."


Interview with Sam Tanenhaus, new direction at NYT Book Review

ka sends us this interview with the new editor of the New York Times Book Review. In it, new editor Sam Tanenhaus talks about what he likes to read, and how the NYT Book Review will change under his guidance.


It's only fiction, but is it legal?

teaperson writes "Although this was discussed already when reported by the Independent, the Christian Science Monitor's book editor, Ron Charles, gives his take on Nicholson Baker's upcoming book:

'The last time a US president and Nicholson Baker appeared in the same sentence, the subject was sex: In 1998, Kenneth Starr discovered that the world's most famous intern had given Bill Clinton a copy of Mr. Baker's erotic novel "Vox."...

Baker's newest work, "Checkpoint," is literary fiction, and carries Michael Moore's case against Mr. Bush to extremes that the partisan moviemaker has never dared approach. It may also be the most specifically articulated argument about killing a sitting US president ever published by a major commercial publisher.'



Amazon halts tit-for-tat critics

Charles Davis writes "Authors and publishers face credit card barrier to anonymously puffing their books.
The world's biggest online bookseller, Amazon, is to clamp down on anonymous reviews of titles on its website in an attempt to curb excesses of back-stabbing in the competitive world of publishing.
After mounting concern about abuse of its open door policy regarding feedback, Amazon has begun a new system, Real Names, which requires reviewers to provide their credit card details before posting a comment.

The change, which was quietly introduced earlier this month, is intended to put an end to authors and publishers anonymously showering their own books with praise while trashing the work of their rivals. An Amazon spokeswoman said: "This is the latest step in an ongoing effort to continually improve the content of the site."
More at
Guardian "


A Review and a Rant

Aleksandar Hemon has written a review of over at Slate. He calls it the worst book he has ever voluntarily read. He says he wrote this review because this scribbling is that it is exactly what you end up with if publishing and fiction writing become a pursuit of cheap hipness and movie rights.

"Perhaps it should be encouraging to young writers to know they are running out of cool authors in New York, so they have to import them from Switzerland. Or to witness that the democratic ideal inherent in literature—everybody has something to say—has reached its limit in Wagner's case: It is no longer necessary to be able to write in order to be a writer."


Summertime and the Reading is Easy

In case you missed Nancy Pearl on NPR's Morning edition today, you can listen to her description of several light reads for the summer here .

Titles include sci-fi, thrillers and chick-lit. Nancy says, "a good summer book has to be light enough to hold above your head when you're lying on the beach. You don't want to get into these 900-page that point, it just becomes exercise."



Subscribe to Book Reviews