Friday July 3rd, 2009

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

laurie-sheckRon Charles bravely tackles Laurie Sheck’s A Monster’s Notes, which “defies description and shreds any expectations you might have for a novel.” The book, fragmentary and brainy, imagines that Mary Shelley had actually run into Frankenstein’s monster as a child. Oh, and the monster is still alive today and the book is written from his perspective. Charles writes, “I’m sure somewhere there’s a reader smart enough (or dishonest enough) to enjoy this novel in all its rich allusiveness, but I spent the entire ordeal lurching along about 50 IQ points behind.” . . . A new biography of Agatha Christie focuses, in part, on 11 days in 1926 when the bestselling novelist of all time disappeared without explanation. . . . Michiko Kakutani, with only slight qualification, praises the new collection of short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. . . . Toby Lichtig reviews two new books about work, and mounts a defense of Alain de Botton (“What de Botton’s critics tend to ignore is his literary brilliance. Label him a “social commentator” rather than a “philosopher” and the arguments against him start to fall away; relabel him a “writer” and they disintegrate entirely.”) . . . Paul Baumann reads God is Back, about the mutually beneficial relationship between business and religion, and comes away unconvinced by the book’s arguments.