Tuesday March 8th, 2011

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

pymAdam Mansbach reviews Mat Johnson’s Pym, a “relentlessly entertaining” novel that plays off a black professor’s obsession with Edgar Allan Poe’s only novel. Mansbach says Chris Jaynes, the professor, offers a “riff-heavy, insight-studded” voice that carries the book. “[T]he novel veers into territory so fantastical that character development seems very much beside the point.” . . . PZ Myers has fun laying into David Brooks’ The Social Animal, which combines the story of a fictional couple with helpings of neuroscience: “I’m sure there were delusions of a soaring synergy that would drive deep insights, but instead it’s a battle between two clashing fairy tales to see which one would bore us or infuriate us first.” . . . Evan Hughes reviews a book by two sociologists about the state of young Americans’ premarital sex lives. . . . Geoff Nicholson, who lives near the Hollywood sign — “often best seen from a distance, especially when you’re not looking for it” — reviews a brief book that celebrates the “essentially absurd” iconic landmark and debunks a few myths along the way. . . . Maureen Tkacik reviews Tiger, Tiger, Margaux Fragoso’s memoir of her 15-year relationship with a pedophile: “It is a meditation on love and need and alienation and attachment, and on the human capacity for adapting to subjugation against an innate biological drive for freedom and autonomy.” . . . Trevor Ross dives into the “48 hefty essays and 5,160 A-Z entries” that make up the massive Oxford Companion to the Book: “In all the OCB contains over a million words, and the editors say they could have used another million. I wish they had used fewer.” . . . Louis Menand reviews a biography of William Donovan, the “bold, charismatic, prescient, sometimes ridiculous, and potentially dangerous man” who directed the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.