Salon recommends

The romance of modern life in Manhattan, and more of our favorite new books.


Salon Staff
February 19, 2003 1:00AM (UTC)

What we're reading, what we're liking

For Kings and Planets by Ethan Canin
To read Ethan Canin's "For Kings and Planets" is to revisit your love affair with "The Great Gatsby." You will see much of "Gatsby" narrator Nick Carraway in the earnest Missouri-born Orno Thatcher. Canin's line, "a seduction and a near miss," a pithy yet beautiful phrase, characterizes the experiences of a young Midwestern transplant, the formation of adult consciousness, and the slow, often painful revelations it brings. The book offers a reflection on the romance of modern life in Manhattan viewed through the friendship of two friends of vastly different virtues.

Advertisement:

-- Kevin Johannesen

Recent books praised by Salon's critics

Property by Valerie Martin
The novel of the week dissects the South's heart of darkness by letting a pretty, witty and heartless female slave owner tell her story.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[02/13/03]

Advertisement:

Savage Girls and Wild Boys by Michael Newton
Kids raised by wolves? It happens, says an English academic. But the mute and bizarre children in these outlandish histories don't grow up to be Tarzan.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[02/12/03]

Eleven Karens by Peter Lefcourt
A sweet tale of an ordinary dude's passion for women named Karen, by one of our most disreputable pop novelists.
Reviewed by Stephanie Zacharek
[02/10/03]

Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
After 10 years of chronicling the lives of teenagers in the Bronx, LeBlanc talks about inner-city hopelessness and the hypocrisy of family-values conservatives who ask poor people to abandon their families.
Reviewed by Sheerly Avni
[02/11/03]

Advertisement:

The Commissariat of Enlightenment by Ken Kalfus
Kalfus' first novel explores how untruths spread throughout the Soviet Union -- and the human heart.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[02/06/03]

Brit-think, Ameri-think by Jane Walmsley
The author explains how our closest ally cherishes our good relations, even though we talk about ourselves too much.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[02/05/03]

Advertisement:

Strange Fruit
"Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America," by Laura Wexler, is a chilling whodunit, but as Phillip Dray shows in his magisterial history "At the Hands of Persons Unknown," the legacy of vigilante attacks on blacks continues beyond the history books.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[01/29/03]

So What: The Life of Miles Davis by John Szwed
Genius, junkie, wife-beater, demigod -- a new book plumbs the mysteries of the most influential and enigmatic American musician of our time.
Reviewed by Allen Barra
[01/23/03]

The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers
In his dazzling new novel, America's preeminent novelist of ideas creates characters as compelling as his concepts.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[01/22/03]

Advertisement:

Boy Genius by Lou Dubose, Jan Reid and Carl Cannon
A new book pokes superficially at Karl Rove, the "turd blossom" who orchestrated George W. Bush's presidential campaign and the GOP's November sweep.
Reviewed by Jake Tapper
[01/21/03]

Dancer by Colum McCann
A novel that captures the wild, glorious life of Rudolf Nureyev -- beautiful, arrogant and brilliant -- and the tragic country he abandoned.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[01/17/03]

A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker
From the master of minutiae comes a novel that transforms belly-button lint and bars of soap into touching and hilarious mediations on time and life.
Reviewed by Amy Reiter
[01/17/03]

Advertisement:

Samaritan by Richard Price
The author of "Clockers" tells the story of a rich guilty white guy who tries to help the kids in the housing project he grew up in, with dire results.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
[01/17/03]

A Memory of War by Frederick Busch
A troubled psychiatrist sleeps with a young patient, obsesses about his wife and his best friend, and ponders the secret buried in his parents' past.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[01/17/03]

I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company by Brian Hall
In this fictional account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Meriwether Lewis is a conflicted, haunted man who's half in love with his partner in adventure.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[01/17/03]

World on Fire by Amy Chua
A new book argues that when Third World countries embrace democracy and free markets too quickly, ethnic hatred and even genocide can result.
Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg
[01/13/03]

Advertisement:

Fat Land by Greg Critser
In America, fat and poor go together. A new book looks at why.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[01/09/03]

A Third Face by Samuel Fuller
Director Sam Fuller killed a few men, got hassled by the NAACP and J. Edgar Hoover, and made violent, vulgar, glorious movies that always went straight for the gonads.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
[01/08/03]

American Normal by Lawrence Osborne
People with the rare condition called Asperger Syndrome can be brilliant, but they're unable to read the human face or the simplest social cue.
Reviewed by Stephanie Zacharek
[01/06/03]

The Barbary Coast by Herbert Asbury
This story of sex, sin and the gangs of San Francisco by the little-known author of "Gangs of New York" remains one of the strangest and most indispensable books about the city by the bay.
Reviewed by Gary Kamiya
[12/20/02]

Advertisement:

Something for Everyone
From Burning Man and NASA's moon photos to James Bond posters and Marilyn Monroe, we recommend the best gift books for those hard-to-please people on your list.
Reviewed by Salon's critics
[12/19/02]

Emma's War by Deborah Scroggins
When a beautiful, idealistic Western aid worker falls in love with a Sudanese warlord, a terrible tragedy of hunger and violence is set in motion.
Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg
[12/11/02]

The Cave by José Saramago
An unassuming potter faces off against the Center, an all-encompassing commercial monolith with a dark secret, in this futuristic tale from a Nobel laureate.
Reviewed by Andrew O'Hehir
[12/05/02]

All Is Vanity by Christina Schwarz
A scheming would-be novelist urges her best friend toward financial and marital disaster in her quest for juicy material.
Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg
[12/05/02]

Advertisement:

Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott
A remarkably beautiful young girl and her mysteriously bruisable cousin share a last summer of innocence in a town that isn't as safe as it seems.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[12/05/02]

A Whistling Woman by A.S. Byatt
From the author of "Possession," a novel of intellectual life in the 1960s and the dangerous allure of utopian and revolutionary dreams.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[12/05/02]

The Seven Sisters by Margaret Drabble
A newly divorced woman casts a cold, clear eye on life in contemporary London and the idyllic potential of a trip to Italy.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
[12/05/02]

The Soldier's Return by Melvyn Bragg
An English soldier returns from World War II to his wife, son and cozy village, but finds the horror and the glory of his wartime memories hard to shake.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[12/05/02]

The Matrix and Philosophy by William Irwin, ed.
Philosophers tackle the mind-bending questions posed by the science-fiction hit "The Matrix," and come up with some surprisingly deep thoughts.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[12/05/02]

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges
A foreign correspondent and eyewitness to horror argues that war and patriotism are lethal addictive drugs and America should go cold turkey.
Reviewed by Gary Kamiya
[11/25/02]

Twentieth Century Eightball" by Daniel Clowes and "Summer Blonde" by Adrian Tomine
These artists create graphic novels and comics as smart, deep and complex as today's best fiction. Plus, they're cooler.
Reviewed by Amy Benfer
[11/21/02]

Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael by Francis Davis
In her last long interview, the late, great movie critic talks about everything from "Deep Throat" to Stephen Spielberg and "American Beauty." Plus, Kael's final Q&A -- with 10-year-old Maggie Barra.
Reviewed by Allen Barra
[11/20/02]

The Blindfold's Eyes by Dianna Ortiz
An American nun who survived the torture chambers of Guatemala describes her ordeal and the fear and guilt that still haunt her.
Reviewed by Donna Minkowitz
[11/19/02]

The Case of the Confusing Bookstore
It takes the skills of a great detective to find the best mysteries among the new releases. Our critic offers his list of some recent gems.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
[11/14/02]

Love at Goon Park by Deborah Blum
Psychologist Harry Harlow proved that children need warmth and affection -- but he tormented dozens of monkeys to do it.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[11/13/02]

Out of the Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
The scholar who enraged Calvin and inspired the Unitarians was gruesomely executed for writing a book.
Reviewed by Peter Kurth
[11/12/02]

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Ten years after her hugely successful "Secret History," a precocious author returns to prove she's still got that ol' black magic.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[11/11/02]

The Spinster and the Prophet by A.B. McKillop
In the 1920s, judges ridiculed a Canadian woman who said H.G. Wells plagiarized her book, but a modern scholar finds her case convincing.
Reviewed by Jonathon Keats
[11/07/02]

Pakistan by Mary Anne Weaver
The U.S. helped build the Islamic fundamentalist movement threatening to take over Pakistan. Now can it rescue the world from the deadly consequences?
Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg
[11/05/02]

You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers
Stop squawking about the money, the youth and the fame -- there's a real writer among us, and Dave Eggers' new novel proves it.
Reviewed by Peter Kurth
[10/31/02]

Dressed for Thrills by Phyllis Galembo
These photos of vintage costumes, from Depression-era ghost hoods to 1960s neon plastic skulls, distill the murky glamour of Halloween.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[10/30/02]

The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege by Marilynne K. Roach
The Salem witch trials remain a hideous -- yet disturbingly familiar -- mystery.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[10/29/02]

Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War by T.J. Stiles
The latest and best-ever biography of Jesse James tears down the myth to reveal not a latter-day Robin Hood, but a greedy, press-savvy bandit.
Reviewed by Allen Barra
[10/15/02]

Hey Waitress! by Alison Owings
A new book gives waitresses a chance to say what they really think of their work -- and their customers.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[10/14/02]

Porno by Irvine Welsh
The "Trainspotting" crew is back in a deft and surprisingly heartbreaking farce about the making of a dirty movie.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[10/10/02]

Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
From the author of "A Fine Balance," a Dickensian story of a Bombay family whose members battle society to gain true love and worldly success.
Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg
[10/10/02]

Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon
The story of a Sarajevan stranded in Chicago during the recent war offers an immigrant's hilarious and wretched view of American society.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[10/10/02]

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W by Gabriel Brownstein
The inhabitants of a shabby Manhattan apartment building live out stories inspired by Fitzgerald, Kafka, Auden and other literary giants.
Reviewed by Amy Reiter
[10/10/02]

Desolation by Yasmina Reza
In this spellbinding diatribe, a deliciously wicked man rants about his friends, his women and the son who disgusts him by being happy.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[10/10/02]

Live From New York by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller
A new book about "Saturday Night Live" dishes the backstage dirt on sex, drugs and fistfights, but lacks the guts to ask if the show still matters.
Reviewed by Eric Boehlert
[10/09/02]

Step Across This Line by Salman Rushdie
In an age of religious fanatics, patriotic zealots and self-righteous leftists, Salman Rushdie champions free thinking and fun.
Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg
[10/01/02]

The Money Shot by Laura Grindstaff
The producers of daytime TV talk shows must woo wife beaters, drug addicts and other scum as guests. Their reward? Being treated like bottom-feeding slime by a public that laps it up.
Reviewed by Damien Cave
[09/25/02]

Strange Matters by Tom Siegfried
From strange quark matter to multiple universes, visionaries predict the weird things science has yet to discover.
Reviewed by Thomas Wilson
[09/24/02]

From a Buick 8 by Stephen King
The master of horror ends his recent slump with this skeptical tale about a strange car, a troop of state police and the fundamental unknowability of the universe.
Reviewed by Andrew O'Hehir
[09/19/02]

Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam 1862 by James M. McPherson
The great historian James McPherson presents his account of Antietam, the savage Civil War battle that made the freeing of the slaves possible.
Reviewed by Katharine Whittemore
[09/17/02]

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
A "This American Life" commentator celebrates nerds and explains how to love your country without turning into a boorish, jingoistic, kitsch-crazed lout.
Reviewed by Douglas Cruickshank
[09/11/02]

Tourmaline by Joanna Scott
An American family seeking its fortune hunting precious gems on the island of Elba, finds mystery and adulterous passion instead.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[09/05/02]

The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
A bereaved man becomes obsessed with the riddle of a great silent film star's disappearance.
Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg
[09/05/02]

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
This wondrous epic from the author of "The Virgin Suicides" travels from Mt. Olympus to Detroit to tell the story of an all-American hermaphrodite
Reviewed by Andrew O'Hehir
[09/05/02]

One Man's Bible by Gao Xingjian
From China's Nobel Laureate, the story of a writer who survived the Cultural Revolution and the price he paid to do so.
Reviewed by Amy Reiter
[09/05/02]

The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
From the author of "White Teeth," the story of a dealer in celebrity signatures who has serious girl trouble and a chance to sip from the toxic cup of fame.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[09/05/02]

Things You Should Know by A.M. Homes
Urgent, hungry stories about the nightmare of suburban marriage (and one hilarious visit to a lonely Nancy Reagan), courtesy of a master of the form.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[09/05/02]

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
From the author of "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," mysterious stories of love, loss and frogs set in a Japan harrowed by earthquakes and terrorism
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[09/05/02]

Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner
A newly discovered memoir by a German classified as "Aryan" describes the insidious early spread of Nazism and how hard it was to resist.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
[09/03/02]


Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Books

Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •