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.
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.
June 26, 2011 |
Good Neighbors A Novel Ryan David Jahn Penguin: 280 pp., $15 paper How fair is it to hold a novel to actual events? It's a question I kept asking as I read Ryan David Jahn's first book, "Good Neighbors" (published in England as "Acts of Violence" in 2009), based on the notorious murder of Kitty Genovese, the Queens, N.Y., bar manager stabbed to death early on the morning of March 13, 1964, outside her Kew Gardens building. Although the attack continued, with a break, for 30 minutes, only one of the people who witnessed it from their apartments — 38 of them, according to an iconic New York Times story that ran two weeks after the killing — did anything to help.
June 29, 2011 |
Henry Bright endures. His mother raised him in a tiny cabin in West Virginia, eking out a marginal survival; when she died, he was left to bury her. He must do the same for his wife, who dies in childbirth, even as he's mourning her and trying to care for their newborn son. These are just a few of the hardships the 20-year-old Bright has faced: He's not long back from the Great War, as he would call World War I, where he was a foot soldier engaged in...
January 27, 2011 |
It's the way that we talk that fascinates Ralph Keyes. The words we choose to express the hurtful, the bawdy and what we perceive as shameful are of particular interest ? because those are the subjects society feels the need to cover up. We switch from "sex" to "sleeping together;" from "dead" to "pushing up daisies;" even "chicken breast" became "white meat" after Winston Churchill was once scolded for using it at a dinner party. The follow-up to Keyes' first effort on linguistics ?
September 11, 2011 |
THE LEFTOVERS A Novel Tom Perrotta St. Martin's Press: 356 pp., $25.99 The two most moving scenes in Tom Perrotta's sixth novel, "The Leftovers," come late in the book. In the first, Kevin Garvey - abandoned husband, distracted father, mayor of the affluent suburb of Mapleton - tells a woman he's been dating that he's just heard from his college-age son for the first time in months. "Were you close?" she asks, herself a bit distracted. "He was my little boy, I was always so proud of him," Kevin answers and bursts into tears.