The Good, Bad and Ugly of Joe McGinniss

I've had a mixed history with author Joe McGinniss. His true-crime book Cruel Doubt was a laughably bad attempt to blame Dungeons & Dragons for a 1988 murder. His soccer book The Miracle of Castel di Sangro may be the best sports book I've ever read. McGinniss has a biography of Sarah Palin coming out in the fall. I was looking forward to it, since his move-next-door stunt reminds me of funny things he did in Castel di Sangro. But I'm looking forward to it less after reading this paragraph from ... (read more)

Two Science Fiction Novels I Didn't Finish

I hit a bad streak reading novels this month. My house is overflowing with books I've been meaning to read, so I will give up on a novel when I've abandoned all hope of being entertained. I figure if I'm not enjoying a book after 50 to 75 pages, it's time to bail. I reached that point with Wilson Tucker's The Year of the Quiet Sun (1970) and Philip K. Dick's The Divine Invasion (1981). Quiet Sun is a Nebula Award-nominated time-travel novel by the late Wilson "Bob" Tucker. He was an active ... (read more)

Review: 'Tinkers' by Paul Harding

This year's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Tinkers by Paul Harding, is one of the best I've read in years. The slim 191-page book is about the last eight days of dying clock repairman George Washington Crosby, whose hallucinating mind wanders across time in his final hours, stopping at disordered points in his life and that of his father. The first novel by Harding, Tinkers was rejected by numerous publishers and sat in a drawer for several years before it found a home at Bellevue Literary ... (read more)

Review: Russell Baker's 'Growing Up'

On a recent trip to the local Barnes & Noble, I was surprised to see Russell Baker's Growing Up in the autobiography section. The book came out 26 years ago and Baker has faded from the public spotlight since his retirement in 1998 from the New York Times, where he was a popular columnist. I picked the book up, figuring it must be a pretty good memoir to have outlasted the author's fame, and noticed a week later that the bookstore had already reordered a copy. Baker's book is a great memoir. He ... (read more)

Annie Leibovitz May Lose Copyright to Photos

New York magazine has an interesting story about how photographer Annie Leibovitz has made such a disaster of her finances that she may lose her homes and the copyright to all her work. She's made millions while accumulating millions more in debt. Here's one of the craziest anecdotes about her profligate spending: When [her daughter] Sarah started eating solid food, a rigorous journaling policy was instituted, in which every bite and bowel movement was to be committed to an unlined black ... (read more)

Rutgers Breaks World Waldo Record

Rutgers University has broken the world record for the largest gathering of Waldos. Here's a funny photo of the crowd filling the theater. I hope the students remained in costume that evening for the world's largest drunken Waldo bacchanalia. ... (read more)

Review: 'The Spy Who Came for Christmas' by David Morrell

I don't read many thrillers, but I asked to review David Morrell's The Spy Who Came for Christmas after it was advertised recently on the Drudge Retort. I'm a sucker for holidaymas-themed books and films, and the title got my attention with its evocation of John le Carre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Morrell, a prolific thriller author who created Rambo in 1972's First Blood, centers his new book on Kagan, an American spy who has committed an escalating serious of heinous acts while ... (read more)

Cyber-Cowboy Post-Apocalyptic Kung Fu

I found a great "cyber-cowboy post-apocalyptic fu" music video on another blog this morning. Watch for the appearance of Col. Wilma Deering, the Planet of the Apes Statue of Liberty and the film crew in a mirror: This video for Muse's "Knights of Cydonia" is the work of Joseph Kahn, a prolific music video director whose next project is a film based on William Gibson's Neuromancer. (Via Stan!.) ... (read more)

Aravind Adiga Wins Booker for 'The White Tiger'

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga has won the 2008 Man Booker literary prize: Adiga becomes the third debut novelist, and the second Indian debut novelist, to win the award in the forty year history of the prize. The two other debut novelists to have won the prize are DBC Pierre in 2003 for his novel Vernon God Little and Arundhati Roy in 1997 for The God of Small Things. Aravind Adiga's winning novel The White Tiger is described as a "compelling, angry and darkly humorous" novel about a man's ... (read more)

Review: 'Indignation' by Philip Roth

Philip Roth's Indignation describes the short unhappy life of Marcus Messner, a college student in the early '50s who is paranoid about getting kicked out of school and drafted to serve in the Korean War, in spite of the fact that his grades are so strong he could become valedictorian. Messner, the dutiful son of a kosher butcher in Newark, transfers from a local school to Winesburg College in Ohio, trying to escape an overprotective father who has become overwhelmed by fear that his son will ... (read more)