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.
November 25, 2010 |
Stop for a moment to absorb this possibility: Rather than dreading a protracted old age, consider that you have been given the gift of an extra phase, what Mary Catherine Bateson calls "Adulthood II. " There are no longer three generations in one average lifetime, but four (more great grandmothers!). This new phase might begin at 40, or it might begin, as Jane Fonda testifies in "Composing a Further Life," at 60. In the United States, we are, on average, living 30 years longer than we did in the 19th century, 20 years longer since World War II. "We have not added decades to life expectancy by simply extending old age; instead, we have opened up a new space partway through the life course, a second and different kind of adulthood that precedes old age, and as a result every stage of life is undergoing change.
September 27, 2010 |
The essential outline of the story journalist and political historian Bob Woodward sets out to tell in "Obama's Wars" actually is fairly well known. President Obama's agonized march to a decision on how to move forward in what he has called "a war of necessity" in Afghanistan has been widely reported and analyzed. It's well known, for example, that the lack of good options bitterly divided the president's advisors and that the chief executive immersed himself in the details of the decision that ultimately produced a modified version of the "surge" strategy that the Bush administration used to stabilize — temporarily, at least — Iraq.
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, 2010 |
Storyteller The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl Donald Sturrock Simon & Schuster: 658 pp., $30 I was sitting on an airplane with a copy of "Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl" when an elegant woman in the seat next to me murmured, almost to herself, "I live just down the lane from his old cottage in Oxfordshire. " Turning to her with excitement I asked if she'd ever run into him. "Oh, no, no," she said with obvious amusement, as if the very suggestion was completely absurd.
June 5, 2011 |
State of Wonder A Novel Ann Patchett Harper: 368 pp., $26.99 In Ann Patchett's new novel, "State of Wonder," an ordinary woman winds up in increasingly extraordinary circumstances. That woman is Marina Singh, a 42-year-old pharmaceutical researcher who travels to a remote part of the Amazon after receiving news that her colleague Anders has died there. The dutiful daughter of an American mother and an Indian father who divorced when she was young, Singh seems an unlikely choice for a jungle adventure.