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

The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, by Joe McGinniss. Reviewed by David Ulin (Los Angeles Times).

I usually try and leave politics out of what I write on the Internet but I’ve got to say, I really, really hate Sarah Palin. Moreover, I think anybody who looks at her and sees a legitimate Presidential candidate suffers from significant brain damage. So I love lines like this:

“The time has come to strike the tent,” McGinniss begins the closing chapter. “[N]o matter how much my book sales might benefit from a Palin presidential campaign in 2012, I sincerely hope that the whole extravaganza, which has been unblushingly underwritten by a mainstream media willing to gamble the nation’s future in exchange for the cheap thrill of watching a clown in high heels on a flying trapeze, is nearing the end of its run.”

Couple that with a more or less racist attitude embedded in her sexual history, and there’s plenty of dirt promised here. I probably won’t read this book just for the schadenfreude, but I hope lots of people do.

Get the book.


Reamde, by Neal Stephenson. Review by Tom Bissell (New York Times).

I know Nico’s toiling away at this one, so look for a C4 review in the near future. In the meantime, Bissell does a great job of both making me want to read this 1000+ page work and demonstrating how to write a readable, entertaining review. If you know anything about Stephenson’s work (admittedly, I know little), you know how hard it would be to summarize the book in a couple sentences. It’s crazy, and it’s about a computer virus. Says Bissell:

If you are a Stephenson fan who believes “Snow Crash” and “Cryptonomicon” (1999) are his greatest novels, “Reamde” will come as very good news, for in many ways it can be read as a thematic revisitation of those excellent precursors. Once again Stephenson is asking us to think about virtual worlds and information storage; once again, by God, he makes reading so much fun it feels like a deadly sin.

Watch for Nico’s review to see if you’re up to the task of reading this tome. I suspect it’s worth the time.

Get the book.


Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life and Lost, by Paul Hendrickson. Reviewed by Howell Raines (Washington Post).

I’m pretty sure the Most Interesting Man from the beer commercials is so popular because he fits into the world adventurer mold made famous by good ol’ Papa Hemingway. Hemingway fascinates people in part because his life sort of condradicts itself: he went everywhere and did every macho thing you can dream of, he wrote himself into immortality, he retired to the tropics. He seemed to be an epic success story, and yet he was a depressed alcoholic, who eventually killed himself with a shotgun. There are tons of Hemingway biographies out there, and here’s another. But I like the angle of vulnerability and conflict this book appears to take (hence the subtitle):

…the record is clear that an author who supposedly was terrified of homoeroticism understood that Gregory’s obsessive need to wear women’s clothes was linked genetically to the elder Hemingway’s own penchant for gender-switching, role reversal in lovemaking, and the fetishism underlying his fondness for dying and cutting women’s hair to make them boy-like.

Biography/Papa fans take notice.

Get the book.


Bonus Book Trailer: Art Spiegelman’s Maus is an excellent, excellent book. This looks like a pretty neat retrospective into it, by Spiegelman himself.


Bonus Second Book Trailer: I haven’t had much nice to say about Winters’s previous fare, but this at least looks original, so I’ll give him a fair shake and say I’m at least a little intrigued.