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Joseph Landes has commented on (24) products.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

Joseph Landes, January 30, 2012

In the Garden of Beasts is an incredibly gripping story about the rise of the Nazi war machine in Germany through the eyes of United States Ambassador William Dodd who was posted to Berlin from 1933-1937 and his apparently somewhat promiscuous daughter Martha who became a special agent for the Russians during that time. The story is gut-wrenching in places and in particular when they describe how Hitler began massacring not only the Jewish people but also his own leadership when he felt threatened by them. I finished the book challenged around my feelings for Ambassador Dodd. At times I felt he could have done more to broadcast with a stronger voice the plight of the Jews in Germany while others times I felt that he simply did not have the composition or stomach to do that. Overall a very good book and a good take on the American lack of response to Hitler and the Holocaust.

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House of Holes: A Book of Raunch by Nicholson Baker
House of Holes: A Book of Raunch

Joseph Landes, January 15, 2012

I picked up House of Holes after seeing that it was named one of the NY Times 100 Notable Books of 2011. I was completely blown away by the book. Not so much because of the storyline which really was secondary. But rather by the incredibly graphic manner in which the author described the various sex acts being performed by the characters in the book. The story is essentially about a "sex palace" called the House of Holes where essentially everything goes and no dream can't be made true. I never knew how many words there are to describe certain aspects of the sex acts. The language was flowery in some places and downrigth nasty in others. This is definitely a book that you shove in the nightstand so your kids don't find it but that you undoubtedly will pull out every now and again to re-read ceertain passages when the moment calls for it. A very different but interesting book that you don't want to miss.
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My New American Life by Francine Prose
My New American Life

Joseph Landes, January 8, 2012

I just finished Francine Prose's latest book "My New American Life" and was sad to have the story come to an end. In fact, it felt like one of those books that could have gone on and on for another few hundred pages and I would have kept reading just as voraciously. The story is about a young woman named Lula who hailes from Albania and is in the US illegally working for a man named Mister Stanley taking care of his son Zeke who at age 17 is clearly too old for a nanny who seems to be just a few years older than he is. Her job at face value is focused on "cooking" him dinners of frozen pizza and mizing margaritas but in truth it is more a story of companionship after Zeke's mom went crazy and left the family one year back. The book is incredibly funny and sarcastic to the point where I was laughing out loud while reading the book on an airplane. It is a good look into the somewhat friendly relationship between the US and Albania during George Bush's most recent term. A very good book that was named a NY Times Notable Book of 2011.
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Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
Lost Memory of Skin

Joseph Landes, January 1, 2012

Russell Banks has crafted what I believe to be a masterful work with "Lost Memory of Skin" and the NY Times has agreed naming it one of their 100 Notable Books of 2011. Banks tells the story of a young man known only to us as the Kid whose life is tarnished by a less than stellar upbringing by his single mom, a poor choice while serving his country in the Army, and then finally an even poorer choice several years ago where he propositioned a "young girl" who turned out to be a detective in an online chat room. Banks shows how life can change so rapidly and so dramtically based on what the Kid believes to be a small mistake. Banks also does a great job commenting on how society today treats offenders which truly is the crux of the book and what will make the reader spend the most time thinking throughout this well written novel. If you liked this book, you will also very much enjoy "This Beautiful Life" by Helen Schulman which also talks about a young man who makes one small mistake that threatens to bring down everything he has worked to achieve.
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Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Blue Nights

Joseph Landes, January 1, 2012

Having read "The Year of magical Thinking" which largely chronicled Didion's husband's death, I decided to pick up "Blue Nights" and especially after it was named a NY TImes Notable Book of 2011. I am glad I did. Didion, in her economically prose manner, describes highlights and special moments with her daughter Quintana Roo who passed away soem seven years ago. Like her previous book, Didion focuses not as much on the death itself but rather what she takes away as learnings from her daughter's life and what we as the reader can possibly take with us. She portrays her daughter as advanced beyond her years socially. She also spends time on her role as a parent and having to sometimes let her daughter go and make choices when everything inside her is telling her to get involved. Another good book by Joan Didion.
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