One Man’s Cache: The 50-Year Medical Collection of Dr. Boris Rabkin (Washington City Paper)
MAC Daddy: Bill Wooby’s Adventures with the Millennium Arts Center (Washington City Paper)
Who Wants Company? How I Learned to Stop Sneering and Love Sondheim (Washington City Paper)
Profile of David Maraniss’ and ‘When Pride Still Mattered,’ A Biography of Vince Lombardi (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
David Denby’s Snark (Raleigh News & Observer)
“The Internet’s culture of the comment is often seen an index for our anomie and lack of empowerment, people pounding away at their keyboards late into the night, desperate to be heard and acknowledged. Why not see it instead as the people’s revenge — against sloppy, boring, unaccountable critics, against the emotional economies of celebrity culture?…His reaction is like a suburbanite’s to graffiti — he doesn’t see in snark the rich tradition of the epigram, the bon mot, the aphorism.”
Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (Raleigh News & Observer)
“‘Outliers’ might be Malcolm Gladwell’s best book yet — a passionate, gripping, sophisticated yet superbly readable examination of exactly what makes people successful … and why the rest of us are totally wrong about that ‘what.’
So why is ‘Outliers’ Gladwell’s biggest failure, too?
All of the above.”
Richard Ford’s The Lay of the Land (Raleigh News & Observer)
“Big writers, big books — who needs ‘em? The question rises early and often in ‘The Lay of the Land,’ which finishes off Richard Ford’s much-acclaimed trilogy about American mores with a couple of bangs and a lot of whimpers.
Ford’s alter-ego, real estate agent Frank Bascombe, is in a mood to muse, ceaselessly limning dead white poets on mortality and the elusive good life while he examines every twitch of his navel. The result is nearly 500 pages that can make selling a tear-down sound like Transcendentalism — at least until Frank does something that really reminds you he’s a jerk.”
David Kamp’s The United States of Arugula (Raleigh News & Observer)
“The abundance of dining choices today represents not so much the bounty of the marketplace and the triumph of good food as it does the iPoding of culture at large: a curious mixture of status anxiety and private consumption of hipster pleasures. Whether we eat out or cook up a storm at home, we face ever more inward.”
A.M. Homes’ This Book Will Save Your Life (Raleigh News & Observer)
“There are flashes of great writing, especially on what it feels like to be inside the body of a middle-aged guy who’s starting to break down. And, as she has in the past, Homes nails the daffiness of L.A., which pervades the book like a gas, a benignly embracing atmosphere with just a hint of cannabis smoke…Unfortunately, everyone other than Richard acts as though they’ve been at a pot party, insistent that we hear their mind-blowing insight.”
John Banville’s The Sea (Raleigh News & Observer)
“One U.K. critic has billed “The Sea” one of Banville’s warmest and most human books, which is akin to preferring ice water to zero degrees Kelvin. The lasting sensation is not of accommodation, but of manipulation — reminiscent of a long con in a Mamet play, but with ourselves as marks.”
Clyde Edgerton’s Solo: My Adventure in the Air (Raleigh News & Observer)
“A decorated Air Force pilot who flew reconnaissance in the Vietnam War, Edgerton wants to indict the military for exploiting its troops’ teenage notions of glory and gallantry. But his 8-year-old’s excitement at the stuff of war flight — visored helmets, cockpits that fit like favorite jeans, or afterburner takeoffs to 15,000 feet in 30 seconds — keep getting in the way. It’s a half-hearted disillusionment, because he’s still in love.”
David Edmonds and John Eidimow’s Bobby Fischer Goes to War (Raleigh News & Observer)
“Nine years old, a magnetic chess set in my pocket, masking tape holding my glasses together, and my family all wearing ‘Re-elect the President’ buttons … of course I loved Bobby Fischer in 1972, when he went to Iceland to take on world champion Boris Spassky of the evil Soviet chess machine.
So why did I — along with millions of other Americans — end up pulling like crazy for Spassky, whose country had held the world title for over three decades?”
Steve Almond’s Candyfreak: A Review (Raleigh News & Observer)
Candy’s bad for you. And, maybe, so is Steve Almond’s ‘Candyfreak,’ a memoir of his addiction to the sweet stuff that’s wrapped in a thin travelogue coating. The book tries halfheartedly to turn PayDays into Proustian madeleines, but ‘Candyfreak’ is really just junkie lit — highs, cravings, scoring and hoarding. The pen might be in Almond’s hand, but it’s candy that’s doing the talking.