May 21, 2011 |
We're living in an age of prize proliferation. It might not feel like it — especially with so many families hit hard by economic turmoil in the last few years — but it still exists, according to Joel Best's "Everyone's a Winner," a book that looks at the ways and the reasons why our society puts so much emphasis on a pat on the back. Everyone knows that the gentleman's C of years ago has become the B-plus or A-minus of today. Averages higher than 4.0 are commonplace in high schools and, at graduation time, many schools crown not one but multiple valedictorians.
October 31, 2011 |
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That's the moral of the story in "Bedbugs," a disturbing new novel by Ben H. Winters. The book chronicles the horrific events surrounding the Wendt family's move to a brownstone that is renting for an unbelievably low price in a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood. What appears idyllic soon turns into a creepy-crawly nightmare. The brownstone at 56 Cranberry St. is rented to the Wendts by a daffy old widow named Andrea Scharfstein, who lives on the ground floor.
September 21, 2011 |
With "Start Something That Matters," Blake Mycoskie, the sailboat-dwelling former reality show contestant, serial entrepreneur, unbridled optimist and philanthropically motivated founder of Toms Shoes, has added author to his resume. He's also managed to pen a quick read of a motivational guide for well-intentioned millennials and a dirt-easy-to-follow blueprint for anyone thinking about following in the footsteps of his alpargatas. Alpargatas, of course, are the slipper-like, jute-soled, soft canvas Argentine footwear that are the foundation and literal sole of the Toms business, which Mycoskie discovered during a 2006 trip to Argentina.
September 16, 2010 |
During the all-too-brief life of their physically disabled son, Jesse, who died in his sleep five years ago at the age of 17, the actors Marianne Leone (who played the mother of actor Michael Imperioli on HBO's "The Sopranos") and Chris Cooper (an Academy Award winner for his work in "Adaptation"), often sought relief in black humor. They would joke that if they were booked onto an afternoon talk show, their screen ID would read: "Tragic parents of severely handicapped child. " What made the line funny was not just that it was politically incorrect but that it captured their dilemma.
January 30, 2011 |
Vietnamerica A Family's Journey GB Tran Villard: 179 pp., $30 Where does memory end and myth begin? GB Tran's graphic novel "Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey" occupies the messy middle ground of that question. Born in 1976 in South Carolina, Tran was separated by time and geography from his family's Vietnamese roots His parents left Vietnam with their two older children three days before the fall of Saigon in 1975: Their American-born son is literally a man between cultures, with no experience of what his parents and siblings left behind.
August 7, 2010 |
I'm of two minds about whether "Savages," Don Winslow's marvelous, adrenaline-juiced roller coaster of a novel, is a rookie reader's best introduction to his work. There's a delicious sense of satisfaction in seeing how Winslow has chiseled his increasingly lean prose to diamond-like precision over the course of 12 novels and fused the themes of "The Power of the Dog" (2005), his epic account of the country's never-ending war on drugs, with the razzmatazz syntax of his surf-detective novel "The Dawn Patrol" (2008)