25 Women to Read Before You Die

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Joseph Landes has commented on (24) products.

Gryphon: New and Selected Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) by Charles Baxter
Gryphon: New and Selected Stories (Vintage Contemporaries)

Joseph Landes, March 23, 2012

Charles Baxter is known as one of the best contemporary short story writers and it was no surprise that his recent collection, "Gryphon," was named a NY Times Notable Book of 2011. By no means are his stories fun and upbeat but they are surely entertaining and in most cases give you great insight into individuals. The most talked about of these stories seems to be "Royal Blue" which is abotu 9/11 and although that event happened more than 10 years ago it clearly has made a mark on the author as he chooses to write about it as one of his new short stories. "The Next Building I plan to Bomb" is an eery look at how easy it is for an affected individual to creat chaos in society. Overall this is a must read if you like the short-story genre.
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Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
Stone Arabia

Joseph Landes, March 11, 2012

After seeing that Stone Arabia was named one of the NY Times 100 Notable Books of 2011 and hearing gushing recommendations from so many people, I picked it up this weekend and finished it in almost one sitting. I was not at all dissapointed. Dana Spiotta crafts a story told by Denise--a middle aged, lightly employed woman who has a brother Nik who is similarly lightly famous (at least in a few people's eyes) for music he recorded via a number of not so recognized bands over the course of 20 albums and 30 or so years. Denise's daughter Ada the product of a few-night stand many years ago decides to make a movie about Nik's "career" and his recording of the "Chronicles" of his life. This leads to much worry on the part of Denise who is concerned about Nik's already fragile ego and alcoholic tendencies. A very good book that exposes sibling relationships at its rawest.
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The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin
The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

Joseph Landes, March 6, 2012

Daniel Yergin in his new book The Quest tackles the subject of energy and how we as the average consumer will be affected by it as we move furher into the 21st century. This is the type of book where you pretty can come into it understanding close to nothing about energy other than how to fill up your car with gas and exit the book being fairly well versed in everything from oil to photovoltaic to fracking, solar, wind, and much more. I found Yergin's style quite engaging--he writes in sort of bits and bobs with short, punchy "chapters" or topics. The book, albeit somewhat long, was fairly easy to get through and you surely did not need a PhD in the sciences to understand how totally screwed we are as a country here in the USA(let alone other countries) unless we make some major changes in our consumption patterns. A good book well worth the read.
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The London Train (P.S.) by Tessa Hadley
The London Train (P.S.)

Joseph Landes, March 5, 2012

The London Train is really two stories in one that merge as the book enters its second half. We are first introduced to Paul who is on his second marriage but most definitely feeling an itch to do something different. He goes out in search of his daughter Pia who became pregnant by an unlikely but sort of obvious person. The second part of the story is about Cora--also running away from her marriage to what seems to be a reasonably nice but unremarkable man. The two meet on a train from Paddington and end up putting what you may call many embers into the fire. In many ways a traditional love story about two individuals who happen upon each other by chance. Look out for what in my opinion was a surprise ending in the final pages.
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Assassins of the Turquoise Palace by Roya Hakakian
Assassins of the Turquoise Palace

Joseph Landes, March 5, 2012

Assassins of the Turquoise Palace is one of those non-fiction pieces of work that reads very much like fiction and you will likely breeze right through it. The book is a detailed look at an event from 1992 in Berlin where a number of individuals were sitting having dinner when Iranian-sponsored terrorists burst in and starting shooting these men who were in fact part of the Kurdish opposition. The shooting was later called the Mykonos killings--the name of the restaurant. After the shootings the rest of the book takes you through the subsequent trial through the eyes of several of the key players including the German prosecutor, the judge, and the widow of one of those killed. Overall a good read about a part of recent history you don't hear too much about anymore.
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