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.
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.
March 7, 2011 |
Above all else, Martin Scorsese is a character. Brilliant, brazen, engaging, esoteric, reverent, irreverent, ironic ? all are qualities that have forged the 68-year-old director into an unqualified master. Much revered, once reviled, Scorsese has created some of the most extraordinary work in modern cinema: the gangster leitmotif of "Mean Streets," "Goodfellas," "Casino" and "The Departed"; the awakening feminism of "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"; the brutal anger of "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull"; the unsettling treatise on fame in "The King of Comedy"; the respectful religious provocation of the much-maligned "The Last Temptation of Christ"; and on it goes.
January 11, 2012 |
Hope is easier to embrace than reality. That is one of the themes of Jodi Kantor's new book, "The Obamas," which tells the story of the first couple's arrival in the White House and their subsequent struggles to adapt to Washington and its ways while facing expectations that may have been equaled only in the early days of John F. Kennedy's Camelot. Kantor's account of the Obamas' first weeks in the capital is a reminder of a euphoria that seems very far away today, as the president continues to grapple with a tepid economy and the lock step Republican opposition to almost every facet of his agenda.
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.