NYTBR, Sept. 9, 2012: A Feast

This issue of the NYTBR was one of the strongest self can remember reading in quite a while.  Here are a few of the most memorable reviews:

  1. Alida Becker’s review of Thomas Becket, Warrior, Priest, Rebel:  A Nine-Hundred-Year-Old Story Retold, by John Guy.  It begins with a fantastic quote from the book:  “The biographer’s trap . . .  is to look for a decisive moment of change.”
  2. Meghan O’Rourke’s review of Winter Journal, Paul Auster’s new memoir.  It “lacks the kick” of an earlier Auster memoir, The Invention of Solitude, O’Rourke writes.  “Strange, you may think, that a novelist so devoted to themes of anonymity and disappearance should have written not one but multiple memoirs.”  This is a fantastic review, one that makes me want to read other books by Auster.
  3. Linda Robinson’s review of Little America:  The War Within the War for Afghanistan, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (whose Imperial Life in the Emerald City, about the American occupation of Iraq, was one of self’s favorite books of recent years).  Robinson writes:  “The United States seems condemned to lurch between disastrous quick fixes and unrealistic visions of remaking countries overnight in its own image, never finding a middle road.”
  4. Jennifer Gilmore’s review of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, a novel by Jonathan Evison.  The novel’s hero is a hapless guy called Ben Benjamin, whose string of bad luck even extends to a neighbor believing “he’s poisoning her cat.”  Very funny review.
  5. Marilyn Stasio’s review of Killer on the Road:  Violence and the American Interstate, by Ginger Strand.  Stasio’s opening sentence poses the million-dollar question:  “What would highway killers do without highways?” then follows it up with the fact that, “in 1956, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, authorizing the construction of 42,975 miles of an interstate road system.”
  6. Jeffrey Rosen’s review of Privacy, by Garret Keizer.  Keizer maintains that one of the privileges of being rich is greater privacy, which he describes as “a form of resistance to exploitation.”  Fascinating.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Exciting-Ness of Life (This is a Post About Action Movies)

Son and Jennie are going to be here in a few days!

We are going to the city this weekend!

Self is so excited!

Besides which, “Taken” is showing on F/X!

And self has been watching, even though she knows exactly what is going to happen.  Even if she didn’t see it in movie theaters, all she has to do is remember the previews for “Taken 2.”  Liam Neeson gets to kick the crap out of everyone!

It is very amusing to see the actress who plays Liam Neeson’s daughter try to mime awkward innocence.  And also it is amusing to compare Famke Janssen’s appearance in “Taken” and in the previews for “Taken 2” (She looks muuuch better, the 2nd time around).  And also, the daughter in “Taken” is wearing a very cute denim jacket, decorated with sequins.  And then self decides to look up reviews for “Taken” on Rotten Tomatoes.  Which is how she ends up reading the following from a review by David Edelstein in New York Magazine:

The script, by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, panders to macho American wet dreams that feel distinctly antiquated in the new age of American non-exceptionalism.  And in a just universe, the idea that rich, white American virgins are the prime targets of sex-slavers would make tens of thousands of captive underage Asian girls rise up shouting, “That is the last straw!”

Okey dokey, that’s enough of the “Taken” fun and games.

Self would now like to perambulate over to “Looper.”  Wow!  This movie has earned a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 94!  Which means self is a meathead!  Because she is not a sucker for time-travel movies, unlike the Christian Science Monitor’s Peter Rainer!  That is, she was a sucker for time-travel movies.  Until she saw “Looper.”  Then she realized that she was no longer a sucker for time-travel movies.  And it’s horrible because Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of her favorite actors!  Seriously!

Rainer’s review is very short and very direct and he winds up giving “Looper” a grade of B.  He writes:  “My favorite line of the movie comes when Gordon-Levitt, in a face-off with his mob boss (Jeff Daniels), informs him that he’d like to leave the business one day and move to France, to which Daniels replies:  “I’m from the future.  You should go to China.”

Which is also self’s favorite line of the movie!  Not just because of the line (though self must admit, it is a very good line), but because of the way it sounds coming from Jeff Daniels!  Because of Jeff Daniels’ impeccable sense of comic timing!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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