BY NICO VREELAND

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


I went snowboarding last weekend and managed to break my wrist. Until I get/master a dictation program, my posts are going to be a bit short, especially this one and the upcoming January Book Radar. This typing with one hand business is for the birds.


News from Heaven, by Jennifer Haigh. Reviewed by Janet Maslin in the New York Times.

When a writer repeatedly dips back into the same subject matter over the course of several books, it’s either a sign of obsession or a lack of imagination. Haigh, a coal miner’s daughter, “is drawn back to coal country over and over again.” Luckily, this has all the markings of a deep obsession, which is, I believe, where great writing comes from (with the possible exception of James Cameron and the Titanic).


The Best of Youth, by Michael Dahlie. Reviewed by Katherine A. Powers in the B&N Review.

Dalie’s first novel won a PEN award. This one, his second, has some overlap, but, like the Haigh book, it sounds legit. I could keep going, but do me a favor and just go read the review instead.


Other reviews I noticed but am too sick of typing to write up: Dirda reviews the reprinted 1964 satire, How to Live Like a Lord Without Really Trying. … A New Yorker humorist’s humorous novel. … A nonfiction book about Victorian-era crossdressers.A memoir by an Anthony Bourdain-esque chef.“A stunning attempt to reconcile boyhood memories of Auschwitz with historical scholarship” … Lastly, an excerpt from a book-length discussion of bad art, centering around a short, bad novel written more than a century ago. And you thought I was a tough critic.

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