Monday January 24th, 2011

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

frank1Geoffrey O’Brien reviews James Kaplan’s biography of Frank Sinatra, which covers the first third of the Chairman’s life: “The book’s tone often approaches the melodramatic, but it is melodrama honestly come by. This was a life lived, at least in these less guarded early years, as if to leave just such a gaudy record behind.” . . . Karl Kirchwey says that Gjertrud Schnackenberg’s new book of poems, about her husband’s illness and death, is “perhaps the most powerful elegy written in English by any poet in recent memory.” . . . Nicholas Carr reviews Douglas Coupland’s “pithy” new biography of Marshall McLuhan, which takes its title from one of the all-time great movie scenes. “Neither his fans nor his foes saw him clearly. The central fact of McLuhan’s life, as Coupland makes clear, was his conversion, at the age of twenty-five, to Catholicism, and his subsequent devotion to the religion’s rituals and tenets.” . . . Sam Sacks reviews two novels about the Holocaust, one from 1968 and recently translated into English, the other “eerie, brilliant” and “a remarkable achievement.” . . . Jessica Treadway says Siobhan Fallon’s new collection of short stories provides “often poignant, sometimes crude, and consistently compelling insights derived from the time she spent in Fort Hood, Texas, during her husband’s two tours of duty in Iraq.” . . . Stefan Collini reviews a new collection of 94-year-old historian Eric Hobsbawm’s writings on Marxism. . . . David Ulin says that a year after J.D. Salinger’s death, much about his life (and his work) remains a mystery, and that a new biography is, perhaps inevitably, “more an extended letter from a fan.”