BY SEAN CLARK
[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]
The Map of the Sky, by Felix J. Palma. Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp (Washington Post).
Palma’s The Map of Time came out of nowhere last year, and I loved it so much I picked it as a Best Book of 2011. So you’d think I’d be excited about another book, again with H.G. Wells in it, and so soon after! But this sounds like a hurried cash-in. It’s probably entertaining enough, but The Map of Time was great largely for its clever subversion of conventions, something that would be difficult–if not impossible–to pull off a second time, using the same characters and conceits. It’s hard to blame Palma for making a buck, as I’m sure he got a juicy contract after his debut’s success, and I probably ought to read this book before branding him a sell-out. But from here it looks like the best-case scenario is that Palma’s a one-trick pony. I would have bet $50 this becomes a trilogy by 2014–but he’s already said it will.
Find it on Goodreads.
I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had, by Tony Danza. Reviewed by Colin Fleming (Washington Post).
If two days ago you’d asked me what Tony Danza’s been doing since “Who’s The Boss?”, teaching English in an urban Philly high school wouldn’t have appeared in my first thousand guesses. At first glance, you may think this is one of those washed-up celebrity stunts–find a situation for book fodder, cash in on teachers and moms passing around your book: Chicken Soup for Tony Danza’s soul. And that might well be the case. But Fleming was touched by Danza’s sincerity, so maybe this is a book with its heart in the right place; better not judged by its cover.
Find it on Goodreads
A Wilderness of Error, by Errol Morris. Reviewed by Dwight Garner (New York Times).
If you haven’t seen Fog of War, Morris’s 2003 documentary about Vietnam era Secretary of State Robert S. McNamara, you really should. Aside from being an accomplished filmaker, Morris also writes a bunch for the NYT, so it’s no surprise to see his book reviewed. Still, it sounds pretty interesting. It revisits a grisly murder case I’m too young to remember, the Jeffrey MacDonald story. McDonald is a “Green Beret doctor and Princeton graduate who was convicted of the hideous 1970 murders (committed with knives, an ice pick and a piece of wood) of his pregnant wife and their two young daughters.” The review gives it a real In Cold Blood vibe (in subject, if not style). Worth a look for nonfic readers.
Find it on Goodreads.
Quickly: If you want a “depressing and often tedious” read about political infighting, give Bob Woodward’s latest a go. Here’s an interview with Junot Diaz, whose new book I should be excited for but am not. Dear LeVar Burton: keep it up.