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 Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown. Reviewed by Janet Maslin (New York Times).
If you don’t know that this book’s title is an allusion to MacBeth, you probably won’t care about its content in the slightest. The whole book is fan service for Shakespeare dorks. It concerns the three daughters of an eccentric Shakespeare scholar who are named after some of the bard’s characters (Rosalind, Bianca, Cordelia) and speak in Shakespearean dialect. As Maslin describes it–and as that brief synopsis shows–the novel is rife with allusion and direct pulls from Shakespeare. That sounds great to me, though I do fear it could get gimmicky quickly. The review gives a decent taste of the book, give it a read and see what you think.
Stolen World, by Jennie Erin Smith. Reviewed by Laura Miller (Salon.com via Barnes and Noble Review).
This review is pretty fascinating, and I suspect the book is, too. It’s nonfiction and tells the story of two men who smuggle rare animals. The two seem rather crazy, but that particular kind of crazy that confuses itself with brilliance. I surmise this is one of those cases of literary journalism that tells a story we might not have any reason to care about at first, but we end up finding incredibly engrossing. Also, I really enjoy that the Fish & Game officers are referred to as “duck cops” so hopefully who whole book is funny, too.
India: A Portrait, by Patrick French. Reviewed Aravind Adiga (The Observer).
Adiga’s review is pretty glowing. He gives the book high praise as both literature (comparing it to V.S. Naipaul) and journalism. I really liked Adiga’s The White Tiger, so I’m inclined to trust his review. French appears to have done thorough research and displays a keen eye for how to describe a place on the page. The review’s not unforgiving, however. French’s prose, which Adiga described as “close to perfection” in a previous work, is called here “over-ripe.”
Behind the Dream, by Clarence B. Jones. Reviewed by Jonathan Rosenberg (Christian Science Monitor).
Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day, a holiday during which some people get off work and others don’t, and most school kids with an off day don’t really grasp the meaning of the day. Jones knew King well (he was his lawyer and aide) so he seems like a great candidate to contextualize Dr. King’s most famous speech for an increasingly out-of-touch audience. Rosenberg recognizes this and sets up his review nicely by opening with a few lines about Glenn Beck’s rally last summer, which some Americans somehow thought was an appropriate thing to do on the anniversary of King’s speech. The review is concise and informed, and the book looks like something a lot of schoolchildren and forgetful, over-privileged adult Americans should read.
Bonus Book Trailer: What if Jennifer Aniston was your pen pal? What if someone thought that was a good question to write a book answering?