September 20, 2010 |
Studded with vivid character sketches and evocative descriptions of the American landscape, journalist Judy Pasternak's scarifying account of uranium mining's disastrous consequences often reads like a novel — though you will wish that the bad guys got punished as effectively as they do in commercial fiction. Real life is complicated, and Pasternak, a veteran of 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, does justice to the historical and ethical ambiguities of her tale while crafting a narrative of exemplary clarity.
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.
April 10, 2011 |
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 He was forced to wait decades before several of his novels saw print, and two of them remain unpublished long after his death in 1988.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.
June 1, 2011 |
To say that Ricky Jay does card tricks is, as Mark Singer once noted in the New Yorker, somewhat akin to suggesting that "Sonny Rollins plays tenor saxophone. " Jay is one of the greatest sleight-of-hand artists ever to fool and wow an audience. A few years back, at a theater in Westwood, I saw him quote a ballad by the French poet/thief François Villon, as translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, while simultaneously performing the famous party piece of his stage act, piercing the skin of a watermelon, or, as Jay puts it, the "thicker pachydermatous outer-melon layer," with a single playing card flicked at 90 mph from between his fingers.
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.
January 30, 2011 |
Three Seconds A Novel Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström Translated from the Swedish by Kari Dickson Silver Oak: 489 pp., $24.95 Appetites whetted by the astronomical success of Stieg Larsson's "Girl Who" series, publishers and readers alike are on the hunt for the Next Big Swedish Crime Novel. What gets glossed over in that quest is the fact that four Swedish writers ? Henning Mankell, Hakan Nesser, Ake Edwardson and Inger Frimansson? have toiled in the field for decades and produced among them nine powerful, award-winning books.