Tuesday November 23rd, 2010

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

ann-beattieJudith Shulevitz reads the collected New Yorker stories of Ann Beattie, who famously helped to define the magazine’s fiction aesthetic in the 1970s: “Beattie was simultaneously reporting on and satirizing her generation. She understood its elaborate alienation and self-pity; she heard, beneath the jaded, post-1960s self-mockery, the hope that nontraditional lifestyle choices were still viable, and the fear that they weren’t.” . . . Second Pass contributor Jon Fasman reviews Salman Rushdie’s latest: “I found it nearly impossible to race past the cloyingly false childishness, the canned sense of expectation that the first chapter sets up. Reader, persist.” . . . Glenn Lester reviews Jim Hanas’ collection of short stories: “Why They Cried is, in fact, about something important: how much suffering arises in the gap between our constructed public identities and whatever kernel of self is left inside.” . . . John Self looks back at The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz, in the news lately thanks to Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest project. . . . Rachel Cooke marvels at the car-wreck memoir of a Guinness heiress and the stepdaughter of poet Robert Lowell: “Sometimes, even truly bad books can be gripping, and Ivana Lowell’s Why Not Say What Happened? is one of them. Clunky, repetitive and disorganized . . . her prose is also fatally hamstrung by the weird incontinent blankness that is so typical of those who have spent too long in rehab. . . . she kills her funniest anecdotes at 100 paces; her metaphors are so bad, they make you cry out in pain. And yet I could not put her book down. Never before has so much bad behavior by people who should have known better been crammed into so few pages.”