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Author Archive: "Georgie"

Home, Jeeves!

In the wickedly funny new novel, Wake Up Sir!, narrator Alan Blair tackles dipsomania, the Jewish question, the homosexual question, pubic lice and the Great New Jersey Novel. "What's Not to Love about Ames?" we ask! Publishers Weekly agrees, enthusing: "Ames's tale zips along, brimming with comedy and wild details, proving him to be a winning storyteller and a consummate, albeit exceedingly eccentric, entertainer."

Never Let Me Go: A Novel

Ishiguro's prose has never failed to dazzle me, and this novel is certainly no exception. With a near stillness, a quiet passivity, Ishiguro's narrator tells the story of her and her two friends' eerie predestined fate; a fate that echoes throughout novels such as The Handmaid's Tale and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. What is revealed here is an important, wistful meditation on life and society. His books are marvels — astonishing works of art.

Kate Atkinson’s Rescue Operation

Kate Atkinson It is hard for me to restrain superlatives and hyperbole when describing Kate Atkinson's fiction. Allow me to quote some fellow readers and critics instead, from Kevin Maynard of Time Out who described Atkinson's Whitbread Award-winning debut Behind the Scenes at the Museum as "so raucously funny and casually beautiful that it's easy to forget how precise the language is." The London Review of Books adds that she "delivers [her] jokes and tragedies as efficiently as Dickens once delivered his, though Atkinson has a game plan more sophisticated than Dickens's."

Many readers were introduced to Atkinson via her fifth novel, Case Histories, which helped make her a break-out success in America. Sometimes categorized as a crime novel, Case Histories does indeed begin with a series of deaths or disappearances, which are subsequently investigated by Jackson Brodie, a rattled, unkempt PI who practices his French while on stakeout. Less a detective story than a touching exploration of grief and interconnectedness, it is populated by a band of curious and dysfunctional misfits who are saved from implausibility by being rendered fully three-dimensional. Jackson won the hearts of many readers, and he ...

Brockman-Free Book News

To follow up on the story I spoke of on Friday, today the Oregonian runs a story about the book reading for A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger that Powell's hosted at the First Unitarian Church in Portland last Thursday. Junger was confronted by Norm Frink, the chief deputy district attorney of Mulnomah County and Steve Doell, the president of Crime Victims United, both who were vocally critical of Junger's book, and were eventually asked to leave after creating a disturbance at the event. Doell is the father of a murdered child and his agency, Crime Victims United, seeks to address problems in Oregon's criminal justice system.'s customer comments page of Junger's book now has two postings by Leah Goldberg (although the second, posted on Saturday May 6, seems to contain much of the same material as the first and doesn't seem to be addressing Junger's response to her previous posting.).

Sunday's New York Times Book Review features a second review for Philip Roth's Everyman, this time by South African author Nadine Gordimer. Unlike Michiko Kakutani's review from last month, Gordimer does not


Scandal du Jour

Brockman is not here to rejoice in today's new book gossip so it falls to me to satisfy our blog readers' appetite for scandal. While plagarism was last week's news the current topic under fire has circled back to "truth telling" in both journalism and memoir. In brief, two very different books are under fire but in very different ways.

Sebastian Junger's A Death in Belmont is a reexamination of the murder of Bessie Goldberg in 1963, and the conviction of Roy Smith, a black man who had been working in Goldberg's house the day of her death. Junger suggests that the murderer may have in fact been Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler. The book raises more questions than it answers and has been receiving excellent reviews. However, two people have been very angered by Junger's book — the victims daughter Leah M. Goldberg and a lawyer friend of hers, Joshua Marquis. Both have posted their arguments onto the book's customer comments on our website (and other book sites), and you can read them here.

Publisher of A Death in Belmont, W. W. Norton has issued a response to the accusations waged against Junger's book


My Judgmental Nature

Ah well, here goes... today of all days, Brockman has called in sick and it is up to me to remind readers that the Morning News's Tournament of Books continues today, and that the two books being judged are Never Let Me Go and The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole. And the judge is "yours truly."

It has been quite fun being involved in the judging of this, primarily because I get the inside scoop, and if there is one thing I don't deal well with, it is being kept in suspense! The down side of being part of the panel is that I had to be publicly judgmental. As my co-workers are well aware, I have pretty strong opinions about which books I do like and which books I don't. But making grand pronouncements in front of my friends about whose new novel sucked, or whose book I am in love with is one thing, criticizing books in front of an audience is another. Please feel free to comment on whether I was unfair or not! I'll be weighing in on the final round as well, and if there is any constructive criticism


Julian and Arthur and George

The usual Julian Barnes novel is a slim and elegant gem, containing provocative and illuminating perspectives on the human condition. From the linguistically playful, formally sophisticated Flaubert's Parrot to the compelling meditation on obsessive jealousy in Before She Met Me, to amusing cultural essays on France and Britain and urbane accounts of the vissitudes of erotic love, Barnes's work refuses to be catagorized. However, no matter the subject matter he displays a delightful dry wit, devastating intellingence, and an innate sense for the human condition in all its permeatations. Perhaps Joyce Carol Oates put it best when she said he has the imagination of a 'quintessential humanist, of the pre-postmodern species.'

In his tenth novel, Arthur and George, Barnes has taken us by suprise again, with his gorgeous, epic retelling of a true story, that of the famous Arthur Conan Doyle and the largely forgotten George Edalji. Conan Doyle was an imperialist, a Knight of the Realm, and the creator of Sherlock Holmes. George Edalji was the son of a Parsee country vicar, a solicitor, and author of the 1901 pamphlet, Railway Law for the "Man in ...

Authors Respond

Last Friday we ran a review from's founder David Talbot of the book Ultimate Sacrifice by Lamar Waldron with Thom Hartmann. A book about the Kennedy assassination can provoke reactions from various corners, and sure enough the Letters to the Editor page exploded into life with long, provocative responses. Today published a response from the authors of this book, wherein they refute some of Talbot's interpretations, and highlight some ommissions. Perhaps revealingly, the bio information at the end of Talbot's review states that he "is working on a book about Robert Kennedy's search for the truth about the assassination of his brother. "

Winter reading

The NY Times' Notable Books list interested me. I don't know if I agree with Dave that the list is too predictable. I think it included a few new authors to watch whose books didn't necessarily get that much exposure. I know Jill loved Beyond Black and I have just added it to my Books to Read (As Soon As I Have Finished All the Other Books I'm Reading) list. I also notice that Elliot Perlman's Seven Types of Ambiguity made the list. (Dave says he doesn't trust novels written by a man whose name sounds like a dentist, but as Perlman is a fellow Aussie I am rather protective, and just tell Dave to shut up.) Anyhow, Seven Types has just recently jumped forward on my BTR list because of how much I am loving his short story collection. (I'm also a sucker for that glorious cover art.) I will add that Seven Types was another one Jill gave the thumbs-up to.

And while we are on the topic of Jill and I swapping book recommendations, I was thrilled to find she agreed with me on how utterly divine the new Julian


Behind the Scenes with Pat Walsh

Self-proclaimed failed novelist and founding editor of MacAdam Cage, Pat Walsh, draws on his expertise from both sides of the publishing fence. His advice to budding writers in 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might, is a wake-up call to navel-gazers everywhere, as well as an immensely entertaining read. Walsh spoke to about vanity presses, championship poker, and the nature of hubris among other things.

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