BY SEAN CLARK
[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
Infinite City, by Rebecca Solnit. Reviewed by Adam Kirsch (Barnes and Noble Review).
I’ve always been fascinated with maps. When a book contains one, I refer to it and examine it constantly. Often I find myself flipping through atlasess in libraries. Solnit, as Kirsch describes her work, tells the story of San Francisco through a collection of maps. In his short, but quite good, review, he compares the maps to poetry. I’ve never actually been to San Fran, but I’m betting I’d love this book.
85A, by Kyle Thomas Smith. Reviewed by Courtney Crowder (Chicago Tribune).
Crowder seems pretty impressed with Smith’s debut work. What grabs me is her praise of his skill as a writer (“…the new voice that the literary world has gained in Smith”) over her description of the book itself. Despite that, the review is largely summary so reading it will give you a good idea what this book is about. I agree with her that the jacket copy’s description of the protagonist as “a cross between Holden Caulfield and Johnny Rotten” is a pretty unfortunate comparison. Hopefully Smith outdoes whoever wrote that copy.
Portraits of the Mind, by Carl Schoonover. Reviewed by Abigail Zuger (New York Times).
Although the draw isn’t nearly as strong, coffee table books fascinate me in much the same way as atlases and maps. This book of brain imagery seems interesting, and the pictures are really awesome. Check out the review if you want, but definitely click through the picture slideshow included. They’re downright artistic.
An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin. Reviewed by Janet Maslin (New York Times).
I love Steve Martin. He’s one of the funniest people ever, and he’s actually a very competent writer. His occasional entries in The New Yorker are always a treat worth getting excited over, and his memoir, Born Standing Up, was pretty damn good. It was funny, honest, well constructed, and supremely intelligent. Shopgirl was decent, too. You have to take Times reviews with a grain of salt, but this one offers a fair bit of praise. I will definitely be reading this book.