Monday March 29th, 2010

The Beat

A weekly roundup of notable reviews from other sources.

henry-houseLiesl Schillinger reviews The Irresistible Henry House, a “thoughtful novel” about a young man who was raised at a time when “human babies were used as guinea pigs on American campuses, imported from orphanages to home economics programs to help college students hone their mothering skills.” . . . Douglas Brinkley calls David Remnick’s new book about Barack Obama “a brilliantly constructed, flawlessly written biography,” for which Remnick “interviewed a telephone book’s worth of notable figures in Obama’s life.” . . . Lincoln Caplan reviews The Death of American Virtue by Ken Gormley, a new book with the “ambition of capturing the sprawling Clinton-Starr saga in a historical narrative, which, despite the book’s reproving title, stops well short of reaching an overarching judgment. Given his book’s massive heft and notable attention to detail, [Gormley] has succeeded in his aims more comprehensively than anyone else to date.” . . . Ange Mlinko on the latest collection of poems by Graham Foust, whose work “bears some earmarks of country (and rock) lyrics: drinking, driving and longing.” . . . Daniel Mendelsohn considers “three recent novels that not only revisit Greek stories but, far more interestingly, do so in a Greek way, playing with the texts of the past in order to create, with varying degrees of success, a literature that is thoroughly of the present.” . . . Speaking of the Greeks, the naturalist E. O. Wilson’s first novel is partly modeled on the Iliad and includes a significant section that takes place inside an ant colony. Margaret Atwood weighs in.