NYTBR: So you better believe I was interested in Wendy Shalit's essay on the portrayal of Orthodox Jews in fiction (considering my recent fictional foray) She brings up some of the usual suspects in "outsider mentality" like Tova Mirvis, Jonathan Rosen and Nathan Englander, and also highlights some newcomers who are more interested in positive portrayals, such as Ruchama King and Risa Miller. I'm still mulling over my thoughts on the piece, although I can safely say they are mixed. But the reason, I think, that the writers she criticizes for their sharp and satirical portraits of Orthodox Jews do so is because there's a lot of drama to extract from the difference between the frum and secular worlds. And as North American Jewish practice becomes more polarized, and the world of the Orthodox becomes more obsessed with ritual and interpretation that are often at odds with logic, then there will be more fiction that higlights these conflicts.
But enough soapboxing, else I go on for thousands of words. Otherwise in the TBR, the Fabulous Lizzie Skurnick digs Sam Lipsyte's new comedic novel; Taylor Antrim dissects several new and notable debuts; and getting Kathryn Harrison to review a book about the Lot complex is either genius or completely, utterly mad.
WaPo Book World: Paul Skenazy rounds up the latest and greatest in crime fiction including new releases by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, Ed McBain, Craig Johnson and Bill Eidson; it's yet another reason for all Murakami, all the time; Jonathan Yardley looks at the social history of the loser; J.T. Leroy has a new children's book and Choire Sicha takes it on.
G&M: Giles Blunt looks at a debut novel by Kenneth Radu that looks like a thriller but really isn't; Martin Levin waxes rhapsodic about William Boyd's new short story collection; and Kevin Chong wades through the comedy and smartass quality to find the innate decency of Sam Lipsyte's second novel (aka OK, folks, I gotta read this book now.)
Guardian Review: Andrei Kurkov argues in favor of Boris Akunin and his latest detective novel TURKISH GAMBIT; Matthew Lewin rounds up the latest in thrillers including new books by Nelson DeMille, Massimo Carlotto, Michael Crichton and John Grisham (one truly is not like the others); Lyndall Gordon believes fervently that the Golden Age of Biography is just around the corner; and a new history of Auschwitz coincides with the 60th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.
Observer: Bless the Sunday paper for interviewing one of my favorite recent discoveries, Italian crime writer Massimo Carlotto. The author of THE COLUMBIAN MULE and THE MASTER OF KNOTS has quite the fascinating background, used to great effect in his crime novels. Otherwise, Tim Adams is dazzled by Ian McEwan's SATURDAY, Kate Kellaway rounds up the latest in Japanese fiction, and Robert McCrum wonders about some newfangled concept called...a library? Eh?
The Times: There's this song on the radio that keeps repeating "Saturday, Saturday" in the chorus so every time McEwan's book is reviewed, well, that's what I get stuck in my head. Otherwise, based on Colm Toibin's reading material, he's not a happy kind of guy.
The Scotsman: Irvine Welsh has an opinion on practically everything and now, in this new interview, he talks about what to do with the movies; Dan Jacobson's new novel probles a scandalous affair involving a Hapsburg princess; and Christopher Brookmyre talks about the transition one of his most prescient novels has made to the theatre.
Before Miami was overrun with PIs from a host of talented writers, there was Mike Shayne, the king of the 35-cent Dell paperbacks in the 1950s and 1960s. Margaria Fitchner of the Miami Herald leads a retrospective on the seedy PI and his contribution to Miami in the crime novel.
Oline Cogdill at first misses the Florida setting in James Hall's FOREST OF THE NIGHT, but soon gets over it and enjoys the book for a great many other reasons.
Craig McDonald goes into much more detail for Columbus This Week about why he digs Ray Banks' debut novel THE BIG BLIND so much.
Hallie Ephron returns with her new crime column for the Boston Globe, looking at books by Luis Alfredo Garcia-Roza, Lisa Gardner and Bill Eidson.
The Orlando Sentinel's Kathy Roe lets us in on why Colin Cotterill's THE CORONER'S LUNCH is so appealing on many levels, both as a crime novel and an exploration of life in Thailand.
January Magazine's Yvette Banek looks at the latest Toby Peters novel by Stuart Kaminsky and explains exactly why she digs it -- and much of the rest of Kaminsky's work.
James Sallis continues his appreciation of bygone writers with a spirited defense for the work of H.P. Lovecraft, who will be immortalized in a Library of America edition very soon.
In what will certainly be the first of a zillion of these, Ian McEwan is interviewed by the Independent's Boyd Tonkin about his new novel, SATURDAY (which is currently near the top of the TBR pile)
Walter Zacharius, the longtime head honcho of Kensington Publishing, has handed the reins to his son and, as he tells the Miami Herald, he'll focus more on writing books like his debut novel, SONGBIRD.
There's a tiny, tiny part of me that's fascinated by the train wreck that is Wilbur Smith. The Bookseller catches up with the 72-year old who sniffs about his ability to deliver books on deadline and why he considers Dan Brown to have written "a treasure hunt with no treasure."
WHSmith is bringing back its Fresh Talent Award, which ran from 1993 to 2002 and launched the UK careers of Jenny Colgan and Harlan Coben, among others.
Just, by some miniscule chance, you weren't around to hear me rave endlessly about Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES, here's more grist for that mill as provided by the Harvard Post.
Heather Birrell wonders, in a review for the Toronto Star, why more people aren't reading short stories, and points to two new anthologies as proof that the form is doing very well, thank you.
The Kalamazoo Gazette catches up with author Kathryn Davis, in town to read from her upcoming novel THE THIN PLACE.
Mignon Ballard is a woman of many talents -- mystery writer, playwright and theater hand. The Charlotte Observer meets her and inquires about her involvement with the Mill Community Playhouse.
The New York Daily News's book editor, Sherryl Connelly, really wishes Richard North Patterson could have tried harder to make the legal stuff in his new book CONVICTION a little easier to understand -- afterword of explanation or otherwise.
And finally, Ray Banks MST3Ks the most recent Harry Potter movie. It's just, well, insanely funny.