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.
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 He was forced to wait decades before several of his novels saw print, and two of them remain unpublished long after his death in 1988.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.
July 24, 2011 |
Absolute Monarchs A History of the Papacy John Julius Norwich Random House: 513 pp., $30 When preeminent British historian John Julius Norwich tells us in the introduction to his sweeping history of the Catholic papacy that his job is to give us "a straightforward single-volume history" of the world's "most astonishing social, political, and spiritual institution ever created," he's hit the nail on the proverbial head. The centuries-old Roman papacy truly is a universally unrivaled institution, and in dense detail, Norwich's book shows us the historic playbook.
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.
August 7, 2010 |
I'm of two minds about whether "Savages," Don Winslow's marvelous, adrenaline-juiced roller coaster of a novel, is a rookie reader's best introduction to his work. There's a delicious sense of satisfaction in seeing how Winslow has chiseled his increasingly lean prose to diamond-like precision over the course of 12 novels and fused the themes of "The Power of the Dog" (2005), his epic account of the country's never-ending war on drugs, with the razzmatazz syntax of his surf-detective novel "The Dawn Patrol" (2008)