Monday December 6th, 2010

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

trevor-storiesIf you were to ask for a list of my favorite writers, you might hear a name or two before you heard William Trevor. You might not. Charles McGrath reviews the new collection of Trevor’s short stories: “His voice, wise and omniscient, sometimes sounds like the ancient voice of storytelling itself. . . . he is less interested in the way things change than in the way they don’t. . . . Trevor’s prose has a precise, well-made solidness that is itself a kind of protest against change.” . . . Peter Duffy reviews “a sturdy and unsentimental tale of how Ireland reached its current predicament, written by an American journalist who specializes in the global economy.” . . . John Paul Stevens reviews David Garland’s new book about the death penalty in America: “Some of his eminently readable prose reminds me of Alexis de Tocqueville’s nineteenth-century narrative about his visit to America; it has the objective, thought-provoking quality of an astute observer rather than that of an interested participant in American politics.” . . . Richard Pious has high praise for Edmund Morris’ third and final installment of his Theodore Roosevelt biography: “Colonel Roosevelt, with its descriptive and narrative power, its thorough exploitation of sources, and its interplay of man and nation, may be the best biography ever written about the life of an American president.” . . . Caroline Weber admires Fame, Tom Payne’s “trenchant, unsettling, darkly hilarious” new book about celebrity both ancient and modern: “Moving seamlessly between yesterday’s great literature — Greek, Roman, early Christian, Enlightenment and Romantic — and today’s trashy tabloids, Payne advances a persuasive, if disturbing, definition of what fame is now, and what it has ever been.”