BY SEAN CLARK
[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]
Distrust That Particular Flavor, by William Gibson. Reviewed by Dwight Garner (New York Times).
When I think of William Gibson, I think of cyberpunk, not journalism. Still, it’s nice to see an author step away from his normal genre and offer something that is, by the very nature of an essay collection, more keenly focused on writing rather than story. Gibson, much like Phillip K. Dick, is a sci-fi master known for his own particular ambiance and outlook that transcends most of the more lowly genre far. I’ve never read too much of either of them, but smaller portions of writing that a presumedly less heady than most of Gibson’s collection of work is something I’m certainly interested in reading.
Into the Silence, by Wade Davis. Reviewed by Richard Raynor (Chicago Tribune).
This book looks interesting enough, but I’m mostly including it because I liked reading Raynor’s review. Here’s an example of how to nicely sum a a book in a relatively short paragraph:
In his magnificent, if perhaps overlong, new book, “Into the Silence,” Wade Davis tells the full story behind this almost mythic story, imbuing it with historic scope and epic sweep, perceiving the quest to conquer Everest as an emblem of Britain’s damaged nobility and infatuation with heroic failure. The background here, the foul compost from which the grail-like purity of the Everest endeavor grew, was World War I, the “Great War,” which signaled curtains for the great, lumbering European empires and obliterated almost an entire generation of young men. The few who survived the apocalypse in the mud of France came back broken and haunted.
If you’re into history books or (or mountaineering) this book looks worth a peek. The review goes on to be written just as well as that excerpt, so it’s worth reading regardless.
Shockaholic, by Carrie Fischer. Reviewed by Jeannine Stein (Los Angeles Times).
So Carrie Fischer has memory loss from elective electroshock depression therapy and that’s her impetus for writing her recent books? Whoa. A book by Princess Lea about depression doesn’t really interest me at all. But I do remember hearing good things about her first memoir. This appears to be more of a collection of anecdotes of weird things that happened with random celebrities, which is kind of funny. Stein certainly seemed to enjoy reading it, so maybe it’s deserving of a shot.
Quickly: One last 2011 recap, with capsule reviews. An Umberto Eco interview I’m bummed I missed the first time around. Semi-accurate visions of tomorrow. A more accurate vision of the past (in which Britons mock dwarves and rape victims). And here’s an interesting bit on lycanthropy.
Bonus Book Trailer: Captain Nobody actually seems like a decent enough YA book. The trailer has some interesting art, but also a lot of pictures that appear to be of random people pulled from the internet. And the narration sounds like they called someone in off the street and recorded him in one take.