April 9, 1989
Fifty-one percent of the eligible voters participated in the presidential election of 1988, the second-lowest voter turnout in the 20th Century. As Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward argue in this illuminating examination, the cause was not a lack of real issues but that campaign advertising men, whose strategies are directed toward "the limited universe of 'probable voters,' " ignored the existing "interests . . . of the non-voting half of the electorate": the undereducated and unemployed.
May 19, 1991 |
Conroe, Tex., "squats on the edge of the Sam Houston National Forest about 40 miles north of the city of Houston." Pretty little town. Nice folks. Nice schools. Nice courthouse. Nice place to visit. But after reading "White Lies" by Nick Davies, you wouldn't want to live there. Not if you are black. On Aug. 23, 1980, a blond, blue-eyed 16-year-old girl named Cheryl Fergeson disappeared while in search of a women's restroom at Conroe High School.
July 1, 1990 |
Beat Sterchi trained in his father's trade as a butcher but left his native Switzerland to study and work abroad and become a writer. His first novel, "Cow" (published in Switzerland in 1983 as "Blosch"), is an impressive, unsettling, monumental, yet in some ways disappointing chronicle of the life and death of a magnificent domestic animal from the rich green Eden of the dairy farm to the blood-smeared hell of the slaughterhouse.
August 18, 1991 |
The Sicilian writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's posthumously published novel "The Leopard" has all of the ingredients of an archetypal publishing myth. In the final frantic years of his life, an anonymous author, toiling away in disenchanted isolation, produced like a swan song a single book, totally unaware of the value of what was in fact a masterpiece.
January 27, 1995 |
Vladimir Nabokov knew very well that "Lolita" would provoke an enormous scandal upon its U.S. publication in 1958. A teacher so infatuated with a 12-year-old girl that he determines to marry the girl's mother--imagine! But the novel works, and brilliantly, for Nabokov knew just how far to push his material, how to make it echo with understanding--of the Western romantic tradition, of the tragi-comedy inherent in obsession, of taboo and vice and self-delusion.
February 4, 2004 |
Whatever happened to making science fiction fact? When were the dreams of manned space travel lost? Why aren't there space colonies, orbiting cities, men and women living on the moon and walking on Mars? The answer, says Greg Klerkx in his thoughtful and numbingly informational book "Lost in Space," is NASA. Once a thrilling group of dreamers and scientists racing to the moon and beyond, it is now, according to Klerkx, a sprawling bureaucratic agency wasting money and potential.
March 16, 2001 |
You wouldn't want to be married to anyone directing a first film. They don't sleep for anxiety dreams. They're at a crisis of confidence and identity such that you couldn't trust them with your credit card or your automobile--let alone your daughter. Virgin directors behave like scoundrels and complain of the loneliness. They have one-track minds headed for Sundance, Harvey Weinstein, Cannes and Oscar night, and they would do or say anything to get their thing done.
April 30, 1989 |
"Emily L.," written by the acclaimed French writer Marguerite Duras and translated by Barbara Bray, is a short and odd experimental novel--a story within a story--about a French writer and her longtime lover who sit in a cafe in a port town off the Seine and imagine the life history of an aging English couple they've never met, who are sitting across the room from them getting unhappily drunk. By the end of the novel it seems clear that the story the French writer and her lover imagine is, in some way, the story of their own life together.
March 22, 1992 |
Kathy Acker has achieved cult status in the small-press world, presumably for the graphic sexual content of her fictions and the nasty bad-girl attitude that fuels them. She is, fundamentally, an experimental minimalist. This collection consists of three mini-"novels" (two of them are fewer than 100 pages) which were previously self-published in the early and mid-'70s. And one wonders at the wisdom of bringing forth such raw and marginal early efforts.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 1, 2001 |
"Stories about Jerusalem should not be dismissed because they are 'only' myths," historian Karen Armstrong once observed. "They are important precisely because they are myths."