BY NICO VREELAND

[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]


You Think That’s Bad, by Jim Shepard, reviewed by Thomas Mallon (The New York Times)

This isn’t an eye-worthy review on a technical level—it’s mostly just a collection of descriptions of Shepard’s latest stories. But Mallon does identify a weird little subgenre for Shepard (the historical short story) and his capsule overview makes the collection sound quite intriguing: “Shepard’s taut, high-­concept, research-dependent fiction covers a bracing, career-long range of hobbyhorses and obsessions.” [Get You Think That’s Bad at Powell’s.]



The Land of Painted Caves
, by Jean M. Auel, reviewed by Liesl Bradner (L.A. Times)

I’ve been fascinated by the popularity of Auel’s Cro-Magnon prehistory “Earth’s Children” series since I found out each new installment requires a first printing of over a million copies. Even more befuddling is the fact that I’ve seen little press and few reviews for this latest Cave novel (and the fact that it’s getting savaged on Amazon). After this review, I still don’t know what the fuss is about. Auel’s epic series sounds like James Michener with the same subject matter for six novels. [Get The Land of Painted Caves at Powell’s.]


Bottom of the 33rd, by Dan Barry, reviewed by Jon Thurber (L.A. Times)

In honor of America’s pastime upspinning its gears again this week, the L.A. Times offers a handful of interesting baseball books. The most interesting, to a casual fan such as myself, is Barry’s account of the longest game ever played (or “the only interesting minor league game ever played”). If you’re a real fan, check out Sean’s picks for Opening Day reading, too. [Get Bottom of the 33rd at Powell’s.]


The Mighty Walzer, by Harold Jacobson, reviewed by Tom LeClair (BN Review)

As you might be able to tell, this was not the strongest week for book reviews. Final piece of evidence: the featuring of this novel about ping pong. The central question here is not whether the novel merits reading, but whether ping pong merits a novel. The answer is probably not.  [Get The Mighty Walzer at Powell’s.]


In brief: The dragon tatooo girl of Faneuil Hall… yet another New Yorker 20 under 40 writer’s debut novel… critical thought on the novel… and a mystery roundup.

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