Archive for The Book Bum

Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture by William Leach

Land of Desire: Merchants, Power and the Rise of a New American Culture by William Leach (Pantheon Books, New York, 1993) The original American culture was an idealized blend of Republican virtue, Christian piety and community values overlaid against a backdrop of slavery, gambling, genocide…

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Second Look Books: Killing Custer by James Welch with Paul Stekler

Second Look Books: Killing Custer by James Welch with Paul Stekler (Alfred A. Knopf, $25) James Welch is the author of two splendidly bleak novels of American Indian experience. “The Death of Jim Loney” and “Winter in the Blood” together constitute a considerably eloquent body…

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Second Look Books: The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux

Theroux, Paul. The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2011 (285pp. $25) Before too much of the 19th century had exhausted itself in revolution and bloody war, travel, which had once been the province of solitary wayfarers,…

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Second Look Books: The Informers by Brett Easton Ellis

Second Look Books: The Informers by Brett Easton Ellis (Alfred A. Knopf, $22)  Brett Easton Ellis is justly famous for his book, “American Psycho” which caused a moral firestorm when it was first published. I consider Ellis a fine American novelist who is responding to…

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Second Look Books: Julip by Jim Harrison

  Second Look Books: Julip by Jim Harrison (Houghton Mifflin, $21.95) Originally published on July 10, 1994. Jim Harrison died last year. His passing is a great loss for American letters. Jim Harrison is one of our very best American writers. He is the author…

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Sorrows of the Digital Age: Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked by Adam Alter

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter (Penguin Press, New York 2017) Nobody in their right minds would now be anything but concerned about the rise of addictive behaviors, especially as they relate to digital electronic…

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Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Nutshell by Ian McEwan (Nan Talese, Doubleday New York, 2017) Conceits like those employed by Ian McEwan in his new novel, “Nutshell”, rarely succeed. Concocted points of view, skewed voices, or ghostly and enigmatic tale-tellers (such conceits were common in 60s fiction, eg. the work…

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The Art of Rivalry by Sebastian Smee

The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art by Sebastian Smee (Random House, New York, 2017) At the center of Sebastian Smee’s new book “The Art of Rivalry” is the idea of artistic struggle through rivalry. Smee won the Pulitzer Prize…

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Winter Notes on Summer Impressions by Fyodor Dostoyevsky—The Underground Man does London, 1862

FROM: Winter Notes on Summer Impressions by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Criterion Books, New York, 1955, forward by Saul Bellow) Notes on the Liberal Bourgeoisie, Alienation, the Struggle for Survival:  In 1862 Dostoyevsky visited London to see the famous Crystal Palace, a capitalist and imperialist wonderland of…

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Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra

Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2017) On Nine-Eleven George W. Bush “awoke” to a reality he defined in the coming months as Good against Evil, with the “evil doers” a set (never precisely…

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