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.]
The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, by Andrew O’Hagen. Reviewed by Stefan Beck (Barnes and Noble Review).
A biography of Marilyn Monroe told from the perspective of her Maltese terrier, Mafia Honey? Sounds either really dumb or really funny. According to Beck, it’s neither. Instead it’s a competent and compelling biography. It seems Maf is an engaging and readable narrator, which makes me want to read this book, even if I don’t really care at all about Marilyn Monroe. The review is quick and readable, worth a look.
Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry: Stories, by Christine Sneed. Reviewed by Andrew Cheuse (Chicago Tribune).
I really like this thought from Cheuse’s review:
That’s what all good fiction does, I think. It gives us the memory of our culture, as writers have conjured it up, and extends our lives in terms of years as well as geographically and psychologically, if not in actual physical longevity. If you think I’ve said something quite silly, stop reading now, please. But if you have the sense, as I do, that reading fiction gives you powers that approximate the strengths of at least the lower rung of the gods, keep going, because I have a recommendation for you.
Sneed’s stories look to deserve a chance.
The Metropolis Case, by Matthew Gallaway. Reviewed by Scott Timberg (New York Times).
This mystery about a girl who can visualize music seems a little smartypants, but also fairly charming. I’m willing to bet it has many of the same blemishes as most debut novels, but it seems on the whole to be a fairly competent work regardless. Lines like “[p]lot is often an afterthought in this kind of character-based literary novel” cause me to cringe a little, but Timberg follows this with “at times the story seems to meander and scatter pleasantly, but Mr. Gallaway brings things together quite neatly, even startlingly.” The Metropolis Case looks like it will be a nice choice to pick up in a few months, and take with you on a spring vacation.
Moon: A Brief History, by Bernd Brunner. Reviewed by Cornelia Dean (New York Times).
The concept of this book is really awesome. It explores the history of our moon, but not just from the geological and astronomical angles. This book tells the story of humanity’s relationship with the moon and “the ways it inspired the human imagination to take flight.” Brunner explores literature, art, and anthropology to explain our species’ lunar affinity.
He took a similar approach with his last book, Bears, which also looks awesome.
Bonus Book Trailer: Uh?