Friday October 23rd, 2009

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

sweet-thunderThe Economist says that readers of Sweet Thunder, Wil Haygood’s new biography of Sugar Ray Robinson, “get two histories: of boxing and of Harlem in its glory days during the first half of the 20th century.” In The Washington Post, Gerald Early says that, though Haygood “seems to run out of gas” near the end of Robinson’s life, his book is still “certainly one of the best biographies of a boxer ever written.” . . . Marco Roth smartly considers the “rise of the neuronovel,” and wonders why, in works by Ian McEwan, Jonathan Lethem, Rivka Galchen and others, “novelists have ceded their ground to science.” . . . Irvine Welsh says that it’s “somewhat erroneous and unquestioningly indulgent – but nonetheless tempting – to think of [John] Irving as literature’s Bruce Springsteen.” Welsh really likes Irvingsteen’s latest. The blurb: “[B]ig-hearted, brilliantly written and superbly realized. [A]bsolutely unmissable.” . . . Alexandra Jacobs reviews Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man, about his yearlong experiment living as an extreme environmentalist — in his Fifth Avenue apartment. (“There’s a certain problem with branding oneself a radical environmentalist superhero and then letting a real old-fashioned book about the experience roll luxuriously off the presses.”) . . . Elizabeth Lowry on “the most informative and entertaining art book you are likely to read this year.”