Monday April 12th, 2010

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

byrne-waughPaula Byrne’s Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead examines the real-life relationships that inspired Brideshead Revisited. Michael Dirda calls it “altogether excellent and wickedly entertaining,” and concludes, “Over the years I’ve read all the major biographies of Evelyn Waugh, and Byrne’s is perhaps the narrowest in focus, concentrating on just the first 40 years of the writer’s life, but also the fastest moving and the most fun.” . . . . Ron Carlson praises Marisa Silver’s new collection of stories, Alone With You: “These stories stand out because of their high tolerance for complexity, never opting for a single note. The situations here don’t settle on the neat broad themes of loss or connection, but there are always surprises, nuances, changes of heart.” . . . Jennifer Senior says that Norris Church Mailer’s memoir “[adds] a fat new sheaf to the public dossier on her late husband, Norman Mailer, and tells an involving coming-of-age story to boot. The book will be of interest to anyone who works in a university marriage lab. It also shows that Norman wasn’t the only talented raconteur in the family.” . . . Jill Lepore reviews a “wonderfully insightful and judicious biography” of Henry Luce, the magazine-publishing giant, which is “more than the story of a life; it’s a political history of modernity.”