Madame Bovary, Grant Wood And More: Book Review Roundup

Oct 04, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

"Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine" by George Dohrmann

"For Demetrius and a few others, he was truly the only father that they ever knew," Dohrmann says. "He understood how parents, kids, dreamt of college scholarships and the NBA. And he put that out there: He said, 'If you trust me, I can get your kid there.' "

"Grant Wood: A Life" by R. Tripp Evans
The New York Times

"The whole image summarizes what this book will say: that Wood was not the simple, homespun, rustic Iowan he may have seemed to be. Jarring as it may be, this idea should not come as a surprise. Any look beyond "American Gothic," or even a close look at that familiar image of man, woman, house and pitchfork, will dispel the notion of Wood as a harmless, mainstream champion of patriotic Americana. So will any familiarity with the facts of his life."

"The Lampshade" by Mark Jacobson

The New York Times

"Mr. Jacobson's book is about a lampshade fashioned from human skin, a lampshade that may or may not be a Nazi relic, made from a concentration camp victim or victims. Its unfortunate dust jacket -- diaphanous, crinkly to the touch -- mimics the feel of that skin. It's a direful thing to have in your hands, a desiccated version of Lady Gaga's skirt-steak dress. Bad taste, bad vibes -- get it gone."

"Madame Bovary" by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Lydia Davis

The New York Times

"The power of "Madame Bovary" stems from Flaubert's determination to render each object of his scrutiny exactly as it looks, or sounds or smells or feels or tastes. Not his talent to do so -- that would not have been enough -- but his determination, which he never relaxed. "Madame Bovary" advanced slowly, as slowly as it would have to have, given an author who held himself accountable to each word, that it be the right word, of which there could be only one. "A good sentence in prose," he wrote, "should be like a good line in poetry, unchangeable."

"The Thief of Time," edited by Chrisoula Andreou and Mark D. White
The New Yorker

"There's something comforting about this story: even Nobel-winning economists procrastinate! Many of us go through life with an array of undone tasks, large and small, nibbling at our conscience. But Akerlof saw the experience, for all its familiarity, as mysterious. He genuinely intended to send the box to his friend, yet, as he wrote, in a paper called "Procrastination and Obedience" (1991), "each morning for over eight months I woke up and decided that the next morning would be the day to send the Stiglitz box." He was always about to send the box, but the moment to act never arrived."

"To the End of the Land" by David Grossman

The Los Angeles Times

"But Grossman wrote with the force of Ora's irrational, personal conviction. In 2006, as Grossman was finishing the new novel, his own son Uri, a military tank commander, was killed in the war in Lebanon. The tragedy struck two days after Grossman held a press conference calling for an end to the fighting, two days before the official cease-fire, and two weeks before Uri's 21st birthday."

"Girls To The Front" by Sara Marcus
A.V. Club

"Over and over in Girls To The Front: The True Story Of The Riot Grrrl Revolution, Sara Marcus leans on the same arresting image of a crowd of women at a concert displacing the mosh pit to link hands and arms, protecting each other and (sometimes) the female artists onstage. It's a striking, appropriate motif for a history of the movement, while at the same time exposing its author's weakness up front."