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September 13, 2012 | Meghan Daum
It's a strange time to be a woman. I say this not because state legislatures enacted no less than 95 restrictions on reproductive rights this year. I say it not because at the same time, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker repealed his state's equal pay law and Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman conjectured that "money is more important for men. " Or because, just last month, an alarming number of male legislators demonstrated serious confusion about the birds and the bees. I'm saying it because Naomi Wolf has written a book about her vagina.
September 9, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
D.T. Max knew what he was getting into when he decided to write a biography of David Foster Wallace. In March 2009, he published a long piece in the New Yorker about Wallace's suicide and the author's inability to finish "The Pale King," the novel left incomplete at the time of his death. "It was 10,000 words, an immensity," Max says of his New Yorker article by phone from Long Island, where he is spending the last dwindling days of summer with his family. But even then, he knew there was more to say. Max wanted to get to know the intricacies of Wallace's life more fully.
September 9, 2012 | By Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
"Vagina: A New Biography" by Naomi Wolf (Ecco / 400 pages / $27.99 ) "The End of Men - and the Rise of Women" by Hanna Rosin (Riverhead / 320 pages / $27.95) In June, Republican state representatives in Michigan silenced Democratic colleague Lisa Brown for using the V-word during discussion of an abortion bill. Afterward, Rep. Mike Callton refused to utter the word. "What she said was offensive," he said. "It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.
August 15, 2012 | By Chuck Schilken
Joe Paterno cried the day after a late-night phone call by the Penn State board of trustees ended his 46-year career as the Nittany Lions' head coach. "My name," Paterno told his son Jay. "I have spent my whole life trying to make that name mean something. And now it's gone. " Paterno cried continually that day. Sometimes the late coach "sobbed uncontrollably," according to the upcoming biography, "Paterno," by Joe Posnanski. GQ magazine features excerpts in its September issue.
July 18, 2012 | By Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times
Marissa Mayer Age: 37 Education: Bachelor's degree in symbolic systems and master's degree in computer science, both from Stanford University, each time specializing in artificial intelligence Hometown: Wausau, Wis. Personal: Married venture capitalist Zachary Bogue in 2009. The couple are expecting their first child, a boy, in October. Residences: Owns a penthouse in the Four Seasons in San Francisco and a home in Palo Alto, where she's known to throw lavish parties and fundraising dinners.
July 15, 2012
So you're an admirer of James Joyce's "Ulysses"? Well, thank Trieste for that book. Why? Gordon Bowker's "James Joyce: A New Biography" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 608 pp., $35) shows readers how living in that seaport city in northeastern Italy helped rekindle Joyce's enthusiasm after the lackluster reception of "Dubliners" and his uncertainty over what readers would think of "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. " The city not only gave him and wife Nora an income, it gave Joyce, as a teacher, an exceptional pupil: the writer Ettore Schmitz, known by the pen name Italo Svevo.
June 24, 2012 | By Wendy Smith, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Cronkite Douglas Brinkley Harper: 820 pp., $34.99 Walter Cronkite was not inclined to introspection, and historian Douglas Brinkley emulates his subject in this thorough biography of the news broadcaster who in 1972 was declared "The Most Trusted Man in America. " Brinkley's lengthy narrative spends as much time on Cronkite's stints as a paperboy as on his father's alcoholism and his parents' divorce. The author seems more interested in the ins and outs of Cronkite's strained professional relationship with Dan Rather than in his 65-year marriage - though smart, sardonic Betsy Cronkite gets her due as the woman who could cut Walter down to size.
June 17, 2012 | By David Lauter, Los Angeles Times
Barack Obama The Story David Maraniss Simon & Schuster: 643 pp., $32.50 Abnormal men become presidents of the United States. The overweening self-confidence required to reach for the office, the preternatural discipline and effort of will needed to grasp it - in another setting, these traits might be called pathological. Tracing the roots of abnormality becomes a recurring motif in presidential biographies: polio's impact on Franklin D. Roosevelt, the death of John F. Kennedy's eldest brother, the absent or dysfunctional fathers of Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton.
June 3, 2012
American Tapestry The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama Rachel L. Swarns Amistad, $27.99 An intimate look at the First Lady's colorful family tree going back five generations, traversing through the Revolutionary and Civil wars, the great migration and on to the White House. (June) As Texas Goes… How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda Gail Collins Norton/Liveright, $25.95 How the conservative political agenda growing deep in the heart of Texas is creating social and economic consequences for the rest of the country.
May 25, 2012 | By David Lauter
WASHINGTON-- Just in case there are any voters out there who don't already know that the incumbent president smoked marijuana as a teenager, several websites Friday revealed details from David Maraniss' soon-to-be-released biography about the young Barry Obama and his “choom gang.” Maraniss' book doesn't get officially released to the public until mid-June, but advance copies sent to reviewers have been circulating. And in the Internet era, efforts to maintain embargos on newsy details of new books have become increasingly futile.
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