BY NICO VREELAND

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

Killed at the Whim of a Hat, by Colin Cotterill, reviewed by Janet Maslin (New York Times)

I decided to read this book midway through the fourth paragraph of Maslin’s review, when she reveals that the title comes from a George W. Bush malapropism. In addition, Maslin claims Cotterill is “so mordantly clever that it’s a line-by-line pleasure to enjoy his phrasing.” Combine that with a healthy dose of Thai culture, a pair of mysteries to solve, and a fireball heroine at the heart of it all, and I might be in love. [Get this book]


Millenium People, by J.G. Ballard, reviewed by David L. Ulin (L.A. Times)

Ulin’s latest great review takes a wide view of Ballard’s entire body of work, bringing lifelong hobbyhorses like “the erotic possibilities of violence” to bear on the posthumously published People. Good stuff. [Get this book]


The Chairs Are Where the People Go, by Misha Glouberman, reviewed by Ethan Gilsdorf (Boston Globe)

Here we have a 175-page book containing 72 essays on city life and classic movies, tending “more toward hipsterism” and written by an improv coach whose hobbies include getting the music turned down at bars and leaving parties six hours early (not joking). Bonus: the essays are also “rife with flabby, sloppy prose”! Sounds like the perfect obligatory Christmas present for your shithead cousin who laughs at his own jokes, does it not? Seriously, though, the review is worth a read, just to see Gilsdorf link this Urban Outfitters reject all the way back to Montaigne. [Get this book]

The Land at the End of the World, by Antonio Lobo Antunes, reviewed by Peter Conrad (Guardian)

Conrad has a few interesting things to say about the translation of this book and its title, but for me the whole review comes down to one detail: Altunes’s original title literally translates to “The Multiple Assholes of Judas.” The story of how you get from there to “The Land at the End of the World” is but a small corner of a fascinating review. [Get this book]


In brief: Here’s a very weird review of Monica Ali’s weird new novel, Untold Story, in which an alternate-reality Princess Di fakes her own death to abscond to a peaceful life as a vet’s assistant. This means that her sons think she’s dead, but that doesn’t stop her. The reviewer says, without irony, “Why didn’t someone write this novel sooner?” … This piece at the B&N Review about the crime novels of Jakob Arjouni is well worth a read. … Geoff Dyer’s new column for the NYT sounds quite cool. … The B&N Review’s Drawn to Read illustrated review column would be better if it was “Books I Would Read If I Could Read.”

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