The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs (Puffin)
For anyone with a Harry Potter jones, July (when the new book of his adventures comes out) seems like an awfully long way away. You can slake your thirst for appealing boy characters and wizardly doings by turning to the many books by John Bellairs. In this, one of his best, an orphan named Lewis goes to live in a vast ramshackle Victorian mansion with his portly, eccentric Uncle Jonathan, who turns out to be a warlock with a witch for his best friend. The illustrations by Edward Gorey should clue you in that some of Bellairs' books might be too scary for very sensitive children, but he has a way with strikingly spooky imagery that offers delicious chills to braver souls. If only his one adult novel, "The Face in the Frost," were still in print!
The Wings of the Dove: Henry James in the 1990s by Robin Wood (Indiana University Press)
The British Film Institute's series of slim "Modern Classics" monographs finds one of its best entries in Robin Wood's appreciation of Iain Softley's delicately sumptuous adaptation of the late Henry James novel. Despite occasional lapses into unconvincing ideology, Wood remains one of film criticism's best close readers, his keen analysis always grounded in emotion.
This eloquent explication is a superb essay on the question of faithfulness vs. freedom in novel-to-film adaptations.
On the Rez by Ian Frazier (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A book about American Indians, specifically the Oglala Sioux on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. It's stuffed with fascinating material -- about Indian-run casinos, about a heroic Oglala basketball legend named SuAnne Big Crow and especially about the writer's bumpy friendship with a mercurial Oglala named Le War Lance. The writing is predictably wonderful, though it may strike anyone bewitched by the daredevil virtuosity of Frazier's earlier work as surprisingly straightforward, even subdued.
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