Reviews

Reviews of books, music, film and other bits of culture

Meaning’s Music: A Review of William H. Gass’s Middle C

Middle C by William H. Gass

Gass’s new novel, Middle C, is likely to strike most readers as less dependent on language games, but such an impression would ultimately be only superficial.

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Aaron Burr: Good Father, Good Shot

Heartbreak of Aaron Burr cover

H.W. Brands’s The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr lays out the details of Burr’s lifetime in short, swiftly moving chapters.

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Why George Saunders Needs to Stop Repeating Himself

Tenth of December by George Saunders

A major risk for any author—especially one whose main theme involves human consciousness—is overusing certain techniques and letting the voices of characters overlap and repeat.

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Review: How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by Christopher Boucher

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

Of all the preposterous faux vehicle manuals out there, Christopher Boucher’s How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive has to be the most ridiculous.

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A Dreamy Look: A Review of Diane Williams’s Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty

Vicky Swanky cover

If flash fiction appeals to a new, attenuated attention span among some readers, Diane Williams’s stories reward expanded attention and encourage rereading.

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DVD Review: The Exterminator

One of the first exploitation films to be shown endlessly during the early days of cable, 1980’s The Exterminator is also one of the more grim entries in the genre. Gory, jaded and ambivalent on the merits of the vigilante, it anticipated Bernard Goetz by a few years.

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Review: The Names of Love

Names of Love

Picture this: a secluded scientist waits in a checkout line for his new love interest to return with an item. An unusual pickup for him, she had invaded his radio interview about bird flu (he’s an expert) and then asked him to bed when they had drinks.

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DVD Review: Adua and Her Friends (Adua e le Compagne)

Antonio Pietrangeli’s 1960 film Adua and her Friends (Adua e le Compagne) explores the end of an era and points to future cultural upheaval.

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Review: Page One: Inside the New York Times

Page One Ny Times

Andrew Rossi’s Page One: Inside the NYTimes looks to newspapers long past their heydey.

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DVD REVIEW: Some Old Truths: True Grit and The Fighter

True Grit

Many recent films have brought historical verity to narratives clouded in myth.

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Review: L’Amour Fou

L'Amour Fou

Those who love hearing fashion discussed as serious art will love this documentary, a portrait of the late iconic French designer, Yves Saint Laurent.

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What Becomes by A.L. Kennedy

cover of what becomes by a.l. kennedy

The stories in A.L. Kennedy’s What Becomes seem driven by two entities: the author’s brain and her prose appendage. The latter is so alive it appears to possess a separate language pulse. In heightened moments Kennedy uses language to bind thought to physical sensation, which in turn stimulates a replicated response in the brain of the reader. This simulated experience is what makes her stories so striking and also intense.

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The Inclusive Embrace: Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman

In an occasionally polemical and highly impassioned voice, Edith Grossman advances the most brilliant and persuasive arguments for the absolute importance of literary translation I have ever encountered.

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Zadie Smith’s Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays

Zadie Smith, the prodigiously gifted English novelist, seems to have been caught in the tangle of literary debate from the beginning.

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DVD REVIEW: The Lark Farm

The Lark Farm

Credit should be given for putting a long overdue spotlight on this atrocious chapter of 20th century history.

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