BY NICO VREELAND
[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]
Undercover, by Bill James. Reviewed by Anna Mundow in the Barnes & Noble Review.
I’m not familiar with Bill James’s “Harpur and Iles” series, and I’m usually not keen about series in general, let alone jumping in at the 29th installment. But Mundow, in this brief review, not only gives great respect to James’s characters, she says that one scene should be counted among the funniest in all of modern literature. That’s obviously hyperbole, but I’d settle for one of the funnier scenes in modern mysteries, which is a much lower bar. I’m in.
Dear Life: Stories, by Alice Munro. Reviewed by Charles McGrath in the New York Times.
Alice Munro is the rare writer that will give you exactly what you expect, every time (specifically, she will give you very good short stories). This review of her latest collection is half career retrospective, and it’s a perfect place to start if you’re unfamiliar with her work.
Consider the Fork, by Bee Wilson. Reviewed by Dawn Drzal in the New York Times.
This “history of how we cook and eat” sounds like a contemplative book that carries some interesting insights. Wilson examines the evolution of cooking, from fuel sources to utensil choices, and Drzal says, “Wilson’s insouciant scholarship and companionable voice convince you she would be great fun to spend time with in the kitchen.”
In brief: The Washington Post’s Best Books of 2012 feature. … A new biography of Michael Jackson. … A history of Marvel Comics promises to deliver sordid details. … Looks like that Roberto Bolano novel I had my eye on isn’t so great after all. … The best of a dry slate at the Guardian is a review of a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer. … An OK review of Ian McEwan’s new novel. … Jennifer Spiegel’s Love Slave is Sex and the City infused with financial reality.