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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Reviews

  • Book Reviews — "Colliding Worlds" by Arthur I. Miller

    Indeed, he invites readers to rethink — and re-see — science and art entirely, and to question why it is that we consider each field to be the other’s polar opposite. We “still assume that art depicts nature while science analyzes it, that art brings things together while science pulls them apart.”

  • Book Reviews — "All Our Names" by Dinaw Mengestu

    The names that mark us — those passed down by parents, grandparents, and other relatives — how much of their history clings to us, what genetic meaning do they hold? In Dinaw Mengestu’s latest novel, a story of three people on two continents, names are discarded and bestowed, cast aside or embraced.

  • Book Reviews: "The Paris Herald" by James Oliver Goldsborough

    The novel depicts a key period in the history of the Paris Herald, an English-language newspaper founded in 1887 by American publishing tycoon James Gordon Bennett Jr. as the European edition of the New York Herald.

  • Book Reviews: "Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?" by Dave Eggers

    The clues left behind by perpetrators of massacres at college campuses, public schools, and military installations across the country paint pictures of men driven to rampage by perverse senses of justice and frustration over their inability to control the world around them.

  • Book Reviews: "Indians, Alcohol, and the Roads to Taos and Santa Fe" by William E. Unrau

    The book explores the importance of the roles of trade, specifically trade in alcohol, and the western routes facilitating that trade. He specifically discusses “alcohol and its impact on Indians along the frontier trails threading through the so-called Indian Country between Missouri and Mexico.”

  • Book Reviews: "Tibetan Peach Pie" by Tom Robbins

    What Tibetan Peach Pie sets out to be is a retelling of stories culled from the author’s life and experiences — going back to his barefoot childhood in Appalachia during the Great Depression, and reaching forward through bouts with education, the military, LSD, art criticism, novels, success, and even a brief gig as king of a tribe of Sumatran cannibals.

  • Book Reviews — "The Decameron" by Giovanni Boccaccio

    The Decameron, with its unsentimental, fleshy realism about marriage and monogamy, the clergy and corruption, is a useful reminder that not all classics were written as high-minded literature.

  • Book Reviews: "Funny Once: Stories" by Antonya Nelson

    In her seventh collection of stories, Antonya Nelson gives us family in a variety of permutations and contortions. Everyone is trying to make the best of his or her circumstances with varying degrees of ability.

  • Book Reviews — "A Guide to the North American Obeast" by Rachel Herrick

    Fat has become a four letter word, a behind-closed-doors pejorative that has quickly beat a retreat from the language of magazines and newscasts. Hence the rise of “fat activists” like Rachel Herrick, an accomplished performance artist and deadpan provocateur, who has taken our national unease and fascination with corporeal obesity and looked it squarely in the eye.

  • Book Reviews — "The White Devil: The Werewolf in European Culture"

    In his new survey of European cultures’ ancient and enduring fascination with the fabled beast, journalist and archaeologist Matthew Beresford traces the werewolf’s origins.

  • Book Reviews — "Hannah, Delivered" by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

    The subject matter — pregnancy and childbirth — is inherently dramatic. Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew has found a topic with built-in interest: regardless of whether or not you have children, want children, or are averse to the whole idea of parenthood, no one escapes being born.

  • Book Reviews – "The Kraken Project" by Douglas Preston

    In his latest novel, The Kraken Project, Preston further explores the unintended and sometimes disastrous consequences of rampant technological development. 

  • Book Reviews — “Chasing the Santa Fe Ring”

    The heyday of the notorious Santa Fe Ring, a cadre of prominent citizens who cooperated in enriching themselves at the public’s expense, began at the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865 and extended through 1885. 

  • Book Reviews — "Strange Bodies" by Marcel Theroux

    Imagine being resurrected inside the tattooed body of an odd-smelling stranger with big feet and a prodigious appetite. Such is the plight of the protagonist of Marcel Theroux’s bizarre and original new novel. 

  • Book Reviews — "Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style & the 1960s"

    It offers 16 essays on numerous Mad Men-related subjects, plus a lengthy introduction by co-editors Lauren M.E. Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, and Robert A. Rushing, plus an afterword that critiques the essays that have come before, plus a lengthy interview with Phil Abraham, who frequently serves as the show’s director and cinematographer.

  • Book Reviews — “The Fan Who Knew Too Much” by Anthony Heilbut

    Despite his professed atheism, author Anthony Heilbut found refuge in the redemptive message of African American gospel music. In his impeccably researched collection of essays The Fan Who Knew Too Much: The Secret Closets of American Culture, Heilbut writes “I love gospel music without believing a word of it.” 

  • Book Review: "On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History" by Nicholas A. Basbanes

    As a rule, subtitles affixed to nonfiction books overpromise. A favorite of publishers is one that includes “and how America was forever changed,” or words to that effect. To his credit, and that of his publisher, Nicholas A. Basbanes put an honest subtitle to his newest work, On Paper. 

  • Book Reviews: "Famous Writers I Have Known" by James Magnuson

    Is fiction writing a sort of con job, the work of men or women who gain readers’ trust by putting on the hustle? And are those big university writing programs, taught by famous authors, scams as well? James Magnuson’s Famous Writers I Have Known suggests just that. 

  • Book Reviews: "A Life in Men" by Gina Frangello

    There is much to praise in Gina Frangello’s A Life in Men, which, despite what might be perceived from its title and its cover image of a woman in a bikini top seemingly poised to jump joyously into a body of water, is not genre chick lit. 

  • Book Reviews: "Heart of Darkness," illustrated by Matt Kish

    Three years ago, self-taught artist Matt Kish and indie publisher Tin House released a sumptuous illustrated edition of Moby-Dick with 552 renderings of the book’s scenes — one for every page. Now the duo is back with a page-per-picture graphic accompaniment of Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad’s dark symphony of European imperialism in Congo.

  • Book Review: “Brown Dog” by Jim Harrison

    We first met Jim Harrison’s Brown Dog in the author’s 1990 novella collection The Woman Lit by Fireflies. B.D., as he is most often called, is a denizen of the woods, waters, and watering holes of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He claims he doesn’t amount to much and that “you can’t get more ordinary.” 

  • Book Review — "Lexikon of the Hispanic Baroque: Transatlantic Exchange and Transformation"

    Lexikon of the Hispanic Baroque: Transatlantic Exchange and Transformation, edited by Evonne Levy and Kenneth Mills, University of Texas Press, 352 pages

  • Book Reviews – "Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal" by David Kline

    David Kline takes the reader through the seasons on his farm. Because his operation is not overrun with tractors and other devices with internal-combustion engines, he has a deep connection to nature. Plowing and reaping with a team of horses allows the leisure, and the quiet, to watch the birds, insects, and small mammals that inhabit his fields.

  • Book Reviews – "Growing a Feast" by Kurt Timmermeister

    Growing a Feast is a chronicle of one meal he cooked for 20 friends using his own produce. The menu included pizza with homemade tomato sauce, squash soup, rolls with butter he made himself, antipasti from the farm, cabbage slaw from the garden, poached local eggs, tagliatelle with chicken gizzards and livers, a beef round roast from a steer raised on the farm, and tomato upside-down cake.

  • Book Reviews – "Why Cows Need Names and More Secrets of Amish Farms" by Randy James

    A world away from trendy farm-to-table meals are the dairy farms in Ohio Amish country. Written by the county agricultural agent for the Geauga Amish Settlement, this book chronicles the efforts of a young Amish family to start their own farm.

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