Friday February 5th, 2010

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

baba-yagaMary Gaitskill reviews the “strange and wonderful” Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugresic: “Baba Yaga’s hut is a place of chaos, riddles, slippage, and between-ness, where life lives in death, beauty nests inside pestilence, and mothers suck their daughter’s breasts. In this place, kitsch and cuteness are on speaking terms with the highest refinement, the deepest sufferings and joys; Ugresic can move from one state to the other with earthy grace.” . . . William Deresiewicz doesn’t mince words about Nabokov’s The Original of Laura, calling it “a handful of crumbs, a bit of lint, a few coins . . . a sham, a scam.” . . . A “warm, fair” biography of Paul McCartney “offers a reconsideration of the dynamics of the band and McCartney’s role in it, arguing that Paul was as much a leader as John.” . . . Claire Dederer reviews the lovable “grouchy academics, pissed-off orphans, and melancholy middle-aged lawyers” in Amy Bloom’s latest collection of stories. . . . Charles Peterson reviews new books about Facebook and MySpace. . . . Alan Light reads new memoirs by two rockers who are used to being in the background, behind Sting and Springsteen, respectively. The results “aren’t satisfying as either literary efforts or historical documents.”