book reviews

intro - book reviews

Jane Juska A Round-Heeled Woman
A moving memoir of an older woman embarking on a series of romantic and sexual adventures
Joan Didion The White Album
The essayist's classic book on America's malaise in the 1960's - what does it mean to be a "great writer"?
Vladimir Nabokov Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited
Beautiful, frustrating memoir of a Russian childhood at the beginning of the century, and twenty years of subsequent exile
Alexandra Fuller Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood
Intense memoir of a young girl’s childhood in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia
Anthony Swofford Jarhead
Harrowing and intense story of a thinking man’s indoctrination into the Marines
Augusten Burroughs Running with Scissors
Horrific teenage years in anarchy and chaos
Frank McCourt Angela’s Ashes
A moving memoir of an impoverished childhood in Brooklyn and Limerick, Ireland
C. S. Lewis The Complete Chronicles of Narnia
Seven loosely linked children’s classics about believable children in a magic world with a wonderful lion
Norman Sims and Mark Kramer Literary Journalism: A New Collection of the Best American Nonfiction
Riveting real-life stories by sensitive, insightful writers
Umberto Eco Baudolino
Warm-hearted congenital liar leads us on a fantastic journey through Europe around 1200.
Elke Mascha Blankenburg Persönlichkeiten mit Taktstock: Ein gelungenes Buch zu Dirigentinnen
Dirigentinnen im 20. Jahrhundert: Porträts von Marin Alsop bis Simone Young von Elke Mascha Blankenburg, Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 2003
Carolyn Forche and Philip Gerard Writing Creative Nonfiction: Instruction and Insights from Teachers of the Associated Writing Programs
A how-to book on writing the hot new genre: creative nonfiction
Michael Herr Dispatches
Exploration of the masculine mystique around wartime fear, bravery, foolhardiness
Mary McCarthy The Company She Keeps
Engrossing but uneven first novel on a "college girl" in New York in the 1930's
Joyce Johnson Minor Characters
Moving chronicle of the Beat 1950's by one who had an affair with Jack Kerouac
Jonathan Raban Old Glory
America’s impressive river as observed up close by an insightful British writer
Louise Fitzhugh Harriet the Spy
A children’s book about observing and writing as a way of growing up, about both being in a group and being alone
Mark Helprin Winter’s Tale
Magical realism hits New York in a massive, beautiful poetic novel
Paul Robert Walker The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance
Inconsistent book about artistic rivalry in the construction of the cathedral in 15th century Florence
Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness
Short, spooky classic novel on the dark heart of colonialism in Africa – and the heart of darkness we all have within ourselves
Frederick Crews Postmodern Pooh
Marvelous spoof of lit crit by means of Pooh and a fictitious MLA conference
Jon Krakauer Into Thin Air
Mt. Everest mountaineering tragedy beautifully told
E. L. Konigsburg From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Children’s novel about running away from home to the Metropolitan Museum: a classic from the 1970‘s
Tobias Wolff This Boy’s Life
Memoir of a confused young boy - one who almost ends up on the wrong side of the tracks
E.L. Doctorow Ragtime
A fascinating novel of decadence and the veneer of convention, of love and vengeance in the early 20th century
Virginia Woolf A Room of One’s Own
An eminently readable and unfortunately still trenchant feminist essay – a long essay in the form of a short book
Tom Wolfe Hooking Up
Self-important writer collects recent essays and a novella
Thomas Bernhard The Loser
A radical, obsessed novel, ostensibly about Glenn Gould but really about life’s inevitable constant dead ends
John le Carré A Perfect Spy
Tense and emotional novel about fathers and sons, identity and deception
Geoffrey Wolff The Duke of Deception
Honest, straightforward autobiography of a man and his father in the first half of the 20th century
Louis Menand American Studies
15 literary essays on American topics, e.g. Norman Mailer, the New Yorker, evolutionary psychology, by a Columbia professor
Betsy Israel Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century
Single women in the US over the last two centuries: many sources, many good quotes - but not a great book
Helen DeWitt The Last Samurai
A single mother and her linguistically precocious son repeatedly watch The Seven Samurai to look for male role models and learn Japanese
Richard Wertime Citadel on the Mountain: A Memoir of Father and Son
Son learns to confront his fear of his strict and domineering father only after his death
Don DeLillo Mao II
This unsettling novel offers an unpleasant vision of emotional detachment in America 10 years ago

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