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ENTERTAINMENT
May 21, 2011 | By Gordon Marino, Special to the Los Angeles Times
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.
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ENTERTAINMENT
April 10, 2011 | By Jonathan Kirsch, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Panorama A Novel H.G. Adler, translated from the German by Peter Filkins Random House: 454 pp., $26 Life is short and art is long, as the saying goes, but the sad fact is that a work of literature may not outlive its human author. Such was the apparent fate of the work of H.G. Adler. He was forced to wait decades before several of his novels saw print, and two of them remain unpublished long after his death in 1988. But, remarkably, Adler has been rediscovered by American publishers and readers, and his 1948 novel "Panorama" is now available in an English translation.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 9, 2011 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
Begin Again A Biography of John Cage Kenneth Silverman Alfred A. Knopf: 496 pp., $40 Type the name "John Cage" into YouTube, and you'll find several fascinating clips. First is a 1991 interview with the experimental composer, in which, above the squawks of a Manhattan street, he discusses silence and his appreciation of noise. "When I hear what we call music, it seems to me that someone is talking," Cage tells the camera, "? but when I hear traffic, the sound of traffic ?
ENTERTAINMENT
August 20, 2010 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
Jonathan Franzen begins his fourth novel, "Freedom," with an extended set piece introducing Walter and Patty Berglund, urban homesteaders who, back in the 1980s, moved to the crumbling core of St. Paul, Minn., and became "the young pioneers of Ramsey Hill. " It's an interesting choice since, as Franzen makes clear from the book's first sentence, the Berglunds have abandoned the Twin Cities for Washington, D.C., and "mean nothing to St. Paul now. " Still, their memory, or their influence, lingers like an afterimage: the perfect couple that somehow wasn't, whose love was shattered by some ineradicable taint.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 4, 2011 | By Carolyn Kellogg, Tribune Newspapers
If it had not caught the attention of a handful of important readers, Jesmyn Ward's "Salvage the Bones" would most likely have quietly faded into obscurity; many worthy books do. Now, however, this novel about a poor Mississippi family in the weeks leading up to 2005's Hurricane Katrina has a prominent place in bookstores and boasts the gold medallion that comes with winning the 2011 National Book Award. Book awards are marvelously idiosyncratic. While major film and music awards are based on the votes of a large group - meaning there is a general consensus or popularity - book awards are frequently selected by just a few people.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 25, 2011 | By Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times
American Dreamers How the Left Changed a Nation Michael Kazin Alfred A. Knopf: 330 pps., $27.95 With "American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation," Michael Kazin tackles a conventional wisdom so deeply believed that even those it disparages tend to accept it - namely, that the history of the American left, for all its drama and artistry, brilliance and passion, is one of failure. It is, in that telling, a story of causes unfulfilled, elections lost, unions busted, communes dispersed.
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