Book Rate

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Jesus Land

When it comes to memoirs of abuse and juvenile “behavior modification programs,” Julia Scheeres‘ Jesus Land is the antithesis of Mia Fontaine‘s Come Back.Mia’s memoir has a happy-ending feel to it and provides a mostly positive view of the intensive recovery program she endured as a youth at Spring Creek Lodge and Morava Academy. It’s […]

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Later, at the Bar, by Rebecca Barry

Rebecca Barry, an Ohio State University MFA who has published both fiction and nonfiction in many of the right places, debuts with a “novel in stories.”

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Don’t Make Me Think!

Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is to web design what Strunk & White’s Elements of Style is to formal writing.Here’s a sample from Chapter Two, “How We REALLY Use the Web,” that exemplifies the theme quite nicely:When we’re creating sites, we act as though people are going […]

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Edward Hopper

by Carol Troyen, Judith Barter, and Elliot Davis (MFA Publications, 288 pages) – Reviewed by Robert BirnbaumOther than Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers, there is no American painter whose work is as embedded in this nation’s iconography as Edward Hopper. “Nighthawks,” “Early Sunday Morning,” “Automat” and “New York Movie” […]

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Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance

NPR interviewed author-surgeon Atul Gawande about his latest medical essay collection, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance.The essential premise of the twelve essays in this volume (some of which previously appeared in places like the New Yorker and the New England Journal of Medicine) is that good enough is not, in fact, good enough, and […]

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God is Not Great?

Christopher Hitchens’ new one, god is not Great, or however you capitalize it, is, according to the LA Times, “An atheistic rant that is, well, just preaching to the choir.”The Washington Post called it “an unrelenting enumeration of religion’s sins and wickedness, written with much of the rhetorical pomp and all of the imperial condescension […]

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PEN World Voices Audio

Audio from the recent PEN World Voices Festival is now available online…April 24 | Green Thoughts: Writers on the Environment: A reading with Billy Collins, Jonathan Franzen, Moses Isegawa, Pico Iyer, Geert Mak, Marilynne Robinson, Roxana Robinson, Salman Rushdie, Gary Shteyngart, Janne Teller, Colson Whitehead.April 25 | Town Hall Readings: Writing Home: With Don DeLillo, […]

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I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, by Crystal Zevon

Most music biographies are useful to fans and devotees but frequently are barely more than hagiographic efforts.

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Thursday Roundup: McCann, Pamuk, and Saving Atlanta’s Book Review

Birnbaum and Colum McCann sat in a ragtop by the Charles River and talked about McCann’s new book, Zoli. McCann said: “The older you get and the more you get into writing, it’s really interesting how terrifying each new novel becomes.”‘Protect Atlanta’s Book Review’: The city of Atlanta wants a robust, reader-friendly, intelligent book review, […]

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McSweeney’s #23 (Spring 2007)

(McSweeney’s, 181 pages) – Reviewed by Robert BirnbaumIn 1998, Dave Eggers, having published about 30 issues of the now legendary Might magazine, spent some time at stodgy (meaning no longer vital) Esquire magazine and having published his bestselling, earth-shattering memoir, HeartBreaking Work etc. launched his assault on literary convention with McSweeney’s, both as a hard–copy […]

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Odds and Ends

ComeBack by Claire and Mia Fontaine, whom I interviewed last year, is out on paperback and is the Target Bookmarked Club Pick for Winter 2007.Though it’s been blogged about many times and many ways, Miranda July has the coolest book site ever.Also not exactly a secret: Lethem has a new novel, You Don’t Love Me […]

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Book Rate Digested Book Reviews: February 2005

Note: (RB) = Robert Birnbaum; (RLW) = RL Whalen; (JT) = Janice Tsai; (AK) = Angie Kritenbrink; (MB) equals Matt Borondy; (DM) = Drew McNaughton, and soon enough there will be other abbreviations to deal with. Links go to Amazon.com. Articles of War – Nick Arvin (Doubleday, 178 pp.) For the record, I am going […]

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Book Rate Digested Book Reviews: December 2004

Digested book review covering Bill Hicks, Arundhati Roy and other new releases.

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Book Rate Digested Book Reviews: January/February 2004

A digested book "review": cheap shots, glib commentary, shameless advocacy of insidious ideology of social and economic justice and idiosyncratic and totally arbitrary choices of books that come our way via our gallant and steadfast UPS drivers and other routes. Also, this is for 1) people who don’t want to shell out two hundred dollars […]

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