December 2008 Archives

You Can Count On Me

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You Can Count On Me

You Can Count On Me, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, stars Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo as imperfect siblings in this perfect little movie. While each is flawed, it seems that, at least initially, only the Linney character is attempting to do the right thing. It is just that when she lost her parents early, married a loser, had a kid and now works for an asinine clueless boss; she finds it tricky keeping her life from spinning out of control. The story follows the return of her beloved slacker brother through his prolonged stay until the bittersweet ending where she finally takes control of her life. Matthew Broderick is truly surprising and convincing as the boss from hell. Like life some of the most terrible moments are laced with laughter.
-Marcia

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After the Wedding

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Click for availability and more information After the Wedding

After the Wedding is a Danish film that was nominated for an academy award for best picture. It is a melodrama whose brilliant script explores familial bonds; some based on emotion and others based on blood. It is painful to watch a character's certainties dissolve in the aftermath of a seemingly innocuous invitation to attend a benefactor's wedding. The film allows the viewer to vicariously experience the relief people can feel when certainties, which may be simplistic, evolve into a much more complex and infinitely more rewarding world view. So, enjoy the film for Mads Mikkelsen heart breaking performance and Susanne Biers direction and script. The set will stay with you long after you have returned the DVD.
-Marcia

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Dan in Real Life

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Dan in Real Life

In the olden, olden days, movies used the same formulas and the same stars and changed every week. In the mere olden days, movies became films and extravaganzas and stayed in theaters for months. Once they were gone, they were gone. Then television ushered in the video that morphed into the DVD which allows movies to hang around forever on our small screens creating a sweet spot for movies like Dan in Real Life. Here is a movie that can be enjoyed on so many frothy levels. It is a romantic comedy like The Family Stone although the tragedy happens before the movie starts rather than after. Steve Carell, of Office fame, plays the adorable lead instead of Sarah Jessica Parker. It takes place in New England and who can resist that. Diane Wiest is the mother and Dane Cook is the troublesome brother who just happens to have gotten the girl. Dane, in another troublesome guy role, is starring in My Best Friend's Girl, which if you go to theaters to see, you will definitely want to circle back to Dan in Real Life on DVD.
-Marcia

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Navajo Joe

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Click for availability and more information Navajo Joe

Yep, even Burt Reynolds made a spaghetti western. Following in the footsteps of fellow actor Clint Eastwood, who hit it big with director Sergio Leone on the "Dollars" westerns, Reynolds hoped to attain international stardom himself by working with director Sergio Corbucci (Django and The Hellbenders; both also recommended and available from the library) on 1966's Navajo Joe. But the film barely caused a ripple outside of Europe, and Reynolds, whenever asked, often spoke disparagingly of the film. (He once claimed that the film was shown on commercial air flights because audiences couldn't walk out.) That's too bad, because Navajo Joe is a terrific, violent action adventure thriller, with Reynolds (who despite his later comments about the movie is the epitome of cool here) as the Native American title hero defending a group of bigoted settlers against a gang of outlaws (whose leader, played by genre vet Aldo Sambrell, Reynolds' character has a particular hate on for, the reason why revealed in the exciting climax). Some wonderfully staged stunts, many by Reynolds himself, plus a stirring musical score by Ennio Morricone (billed as "Leo Nichols"), fantastic action sequences, a solid supporting cast and a powerful ending help give this underrated film the critical attention it deserves. Ignore Reynolds' comments and watch this film! Also with Fernando Rey and the gorgeous Nicoletta Machiavelli.
-Ed

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The Long Goodbye

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Click for availability and more information The Long Goodbye

Director Robert Altman's 1973 film adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye (with Elliott Gould as private eye Philip Marlowe) is an engrossing, clever takeoff on both the mystery genre and early 70s Californian lifestyles. After Marlowe helps an old friend accused of murder flee Los Angeles for Mexico, he becomes involved in a series of bizarre situations and characters (including Sterling Hayden's washed-up author, a sinister pop psychologist played by Henry Gibson and a nasty coke-bottle smashing gangster played by Altman's fellow director Mark Rydell), all the while (seemingly) keeping his cool. ("It's okay with me," is Marlowe's frequent reaction on the increasingly out-of-control proceedings.) But in an unforgettable scene that drove Chandler fans nuts, an angry, betrayed Marlowe finally decides it's NOT okay and gets even for all the slights he went through. (The fans thought Marlowe's reaction in the film's climax, which was very different from the 1954 novel's, was out-of-character; judge for yourselves.) Also with Nina Van Pallandt, Jim Bouton, and two blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos by David Carradine and Arnold Schwazenegger . Terrific photography by Vilmos Zsigmond.
-Ed

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Gaslight

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Gaslight

Charles Boyer very nearly steals the show in this 1944 nail biter. Boyer is pitch perfect in his role as Gregory Anton, con man extraordinaire. Ingrid Bergman plays Paula Alquist, unwitting victim to his machinations. As the movie begins we see a murder involving Paula's aunt, which takes place in London's foggy Thornton Square; a murder that goes unsolved. Paula is whisked away to Italy in hopes that she can put the ghastly scene behind her. It is there that she is courted by Gregory Anton. His constant presence and excessive doting would be suffocating to most women but the needy and naïve Paula welcomes it. The two are soon married. It is then that the story begins to get truly sinister. At Gregory's suggestion the couple returns to London and move in to the house on Thornton Square. Shortly after their arrival, Paula begins a descent into madness. Are the lights really dimming and flickering every night? What is that thumping sound above her bedroom? And... why does Gregory suddenly seem so distant and cruel? The ubiquitous Charles Cotton soon enters the picture as an American police officer working for Scotland Yard. His initial interest is to solve the earlier murder of Paula's aunt but he is soon smitten with Paula and his suspicion of Gregory moves the action forward. Director George Cukor adds to the film's mystery with a pitch perfect mise-en-scène. The fog covered square, the creaky old house, the nosy neighbor and so much more all abet the film's sinister air. It doesn't take long to figure out how this movie will end up but, it's getting there that's the fun part.
-Stephen

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Redbelt

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Redbelt

Acclaimed director David Mamet has written Mike Terry (played with masterful restraint by Chiwetel Ejiofor) as an ex-soldier jujitsu instructor in Los Angeles who has eschewed martial arts competition as "shameful" according to his samurai code of honor, preferring instead to teach people how to "prevail" in their own lives. But, as Mike discovers, honor doesn't pay the bills. Nor do good deeds for that matter, as Mike also learns that the road to Hell often truly is paved with good intentions--in a confluence of unfortunate events spawned amid some perverse karmic backlash, every "good" deed Mike performs for others comes back to haunt him. Backed into a corner by life's misfortunes and the underhanded dealings of some sleazy martial arts promoters, Mike must put his own skill and honor on the line if he hopes to prevail against the malevolent forces arrayed against him. Mamet's expert-but-subtle direction is almost too understated at times, but his passion for the art of jujitsu and its philosophy really work to outshine any technical mis-steps, resulting in an excellent story well-told.
-Will

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Third/Sister Lovers

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Click for availability and more information Third/Sister Lovers, Big Star

After releasing two commercially ignored but amazing power pop records in the early 1970's Alex Chilton returned to the studio in 1974 with drummer Jody Stephens and Memphis producer Jim Dickinson, to record a more quiet and personal record. This record, Big Star's 3rd, was deemed too uncommercial for release at the time. It finally saw the light of day in 1978 and proved to be influential to a host of bands that followed in it's wake, most notably REM.
It's a dark and brooding record that barely hints at the buoyant pop sounds of the bands past. Eschewing the pop sound, Sister Lovers features such somber classics as "Kanga Roo" and "Holocaust." These grand and twisted pop experiments take some time to digest and their beauty grows with extended listens. It is one of those rare records that successfully utilize the recording studio as an extended member of the band. Strings and synthesizers abound and the songs, at times, sound distant and lonely. It is a perfect soundtrack to the crisp autumn evenings that will soon be upon us.
-Stephen

The Slip

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Click for availability and more information The Slip, Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor surprised a lot of people earlier this year when he released four volumes of new instrumental music by Nine Inch Nails, Ghosts I-IV, online in multiple formats with some of those formats available for free. On May 5th he one-upped himself by releasing his new full-length album The Slip online, again in multiple file formats, but this time they were all for free, accompanied by a message to his fans: "thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one's on me".
Radiohead, eat your heart out.
The album itself feels almost like a summary of the previous two decades of Nine Inch Nails' music, even while sounding fresh. Discipline and Echoplex are two of the more obvious "catchy, radio-friendly" tracks, the lyrics of which could be about music and then the music industry, respectively. The album actually starts off with the instrumental 999,999, building from a pensive mood with shades of Help Me I Am In Hell (from the Broken EP) working in the background until launching into the ferocious 1,000,000, kick-started with the awesome Josh Freese's roiling drum-work. While I admit I'm still not entirely sold on Letting You (the chorus is too cacophonous for me, and that's saying a lot), I happen to think the chorus of Head Down is pure gold from my own existential angst point-of-view. Lights In The Sky (for which the current tour is named, by the way) is a beautifully subdued piano-and-vocal melody. Following are the two moody instrumentals Corona Radiata and The Four Of Us Are Dying, leading in nicely to the final track Demon Seed, which escalates upon layers of menace and barely-restrained power toward the promise of more to come. Which is plenty fine by me.
The Slip is a solid album in its own right, and therefore truly a gift to the fans (even for those like me who still insist on purchasing and owning a physical copy), and having seen Nine Inch Nails in concert over the summer, I can absolutely verify that the new material translates from disc to stage with no loss and all gain. If you've never heard Nine Inch Nails before, or just not in a very long time, do yourself a favor and give this album a listen--chances are good that you might like what you hear.
-Will

Get Away From Me

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Click for availability and more information Get Away From Me, Nellie McKay

Since Nellie McKay will be performing at Greenwich Library in October, I thought I'd take the opportunity to write about her fledgling release, 2004's two-disc set, Get Away From Me. The title is a somewhat snide takeoff on Come Away With Me, Norah Jones's mega-hit, which predated Nellie's debut by two years. As such, it reflects Ms. McKay's jaundiced view of things in general and relations between the sexes in particular. Nellie does not mince her words, which, given the acuity and tartness of her perceptions of the (female) human condition, results in some devastating social commentary. Not infrequently, she is the object of her own barbs. But the real story of this recording is the seeming grab bag of styles contained therein; representing a kind of unhinged eclecticism. Think of a genre of popular music and it is likely to be present on GAFM. The fact that none of these styles are performed exactly idiomatically, doesn't for me, detract from the enjoyment of the disc. This is a tribute to the sheer personality Nellie puts across in her songs as well as the production acumen supplied by former Beatles engineer, Geoff Emerick. This utterly distinctive release put Nellie McKay on a lot of people's radar screens.
-David

The President of the United States

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Seal of the President of the United States Children can meet the Presidential candidates----in books. Whether a child has to read a biography for school, likes to read non fiction, or wants to learn more about the upcoming election, there are several new titles in the children's room for all different reading levels: For readers as young as 3rd grade, the biographies Barack Obama: An American Story by Roberta Edwards and John McCain: An American Life by Spencer Williams provide an introduction to the candidates lives. Readers at a 4th or 5th grade level looking for more details can turn to recent releases including John McCain: Profile of a Leading Republican by Kira Wizner and Barack Obama by Stephen Feinstein, which is part of the "African American heroes" series. For older children grades 6-8, Obama: A Promise of Change by Sarah Thomson, is a biography adapted from the adult title Obama: From Promise to Power. There are also two titles in picture book format that one can share with a child or would work well in a classroom setting. Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, by Nikki Grimes is done in rich illustrations, and is the story of a mother telling her child about the presidential candidate. As she shares the story of Obama, the child draws parallels to his own life. The picture book My Dad, John McCain by Meghan McCain, allows readers to follow McCain's life as if they were looking through the family scrapbook.
-Deirdre

The Dodgeball Chronicles

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Click for availability and more information The Dodgeball Chronicles, by Frank Cammuso

The Dodgeball Chronicles by Frank Cammuso is the first in the graphic novel series "Knights of the Lunch Table". A fun read for kids that is "loosely" based on the sword in the stone and other Arthurian legends. Artie King starts at a new middle school and finds he is assigned to the locker no one has ever been able to open. The locker not only opens for Artie, but unlocks a series of events that leads Artie and his new friends to challenge the school bullies to a game of dodgeball. Science teacher Mr. Merlyn may not be able to stop Principal Dagger from insuring it is the bullies that win the game. Grades 3 and up will enjoy the fun and the illustrations by Cammuso make this graphic novel a standout.
-Deirdre

Eleven

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Click for availability and more information Eleven, by Patricia Reilly Giff

Sam lives with his grandfather and they both share a love and talent of woodworking. As Sam nears his eleventh birthday, he stumbles onto a mystery...of his own life. Could it be that his grandfather really isn't his family? Sam turns to a new girl in his class and as they work on a class project together, he enlists her help in finding out his true identity. Patricia Reilly Giff is an award winning author, and among her other titles are Pictures of Hollis Woods, Lily' s Crossing, and Nory Ryan's Song.
-Deirdre

When Boston Still Had The Babe: The 1918 World Champion Red Sox, edited by Bill Nowlin

Most baseball fans are familiar with the "Curse of the Bambino", which haunted the Boston Red Sox from 1918 to 2004. This is all laid out in When Boston Still Had The Babe: The 1918 World Champion Red Sox (2008, Bill Nowlin, editor). America's national pastime was greatly effected by World War I as players left to enlist in the military or work in war industries. Boston picked up Babe Ruth in 1914, which gave them a significant advantage. Then owner Harry Frazee sold the Babe to New York in 1920 to bankroll a play on Broadway, which his girlfriend was in. Some believe this changed the entire makeup of the Red Sox, and led to their great drought in baseball championships. The book is skillfully laid out with a brief history of 1917-1918, player stats and biographies, day- by- day game summaries and a recap of the World Series with the Chicago Cubs. This book is a great reference source for information on the 1918 Red Sox players. It's very entertaining and easy to read. As the baseball season winds down, die hard baseball fans should checkout this gem.
-Carl

Gross National Happiness

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Gross National Happiness, by Arthur C. Brooks

How happy are you and what makes you happy? How happy is our nation? Does it matter? Mr.Brooks answers the latter with a strong "yes", ..."happy citizens are better citizens. Better citizens are vital to making our nation healthy and strong." "...we have the right to pursue happiness. But we also have an ethical responsibility to exercise that right, and to guide our values, policies, and politics as a nation in a way that makes it possible for our fellow citizens and those around the world to pursue happiness as well." He analyses extensive data (in appendix) gathered by others' studies, and reaches sometimes unexpected conclusions about what makes us happy and why. He finally proposes 9 main lessons for 'a "happiness platform" for our nation.' A fascinating and enjoyable read.
-Nancy

One Minute to Midnight

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Click for availability and more information One Minute to Midnight, by Michael Dobbs

Michael Dobbs begins his terrifically readable One Minute to Midnight by stating that "few events in history have been as studied and analyzed as the Cuban missile crisis." While this may be the case, Dobbs, a reporter for The Washington Post, has written a compellingly interesting and gripping account of those days in October, 1962 when the United States and the Soviet Union came extremely close to nuclear confrontation. Once the United States became aware of the presence of Soviet nuclear warhead missiles in Cuba, the battle of wills began between President John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union. Added into that mix was the often widely anti-American voice of Fidel Castro. Dobbs documents the political trials of both Kennedy and Khrushchev in detail as they come close to launching a nuclear war and then retreat from that path when the horrors of that possibility become all too real. This is a highly recommended book!
-Roy

Click for availability and more information Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care, by Kathleen Parker

This is a wake-up call to the dangers affecting everyone in our society as the culture promulgates the belief that women are good and men are bad. The author concludes "As long as men feel marginalized by the women whose favors and approval they seek, as long as they are alienated from their children and treated as criminals by family courts, as long as they are disrespected by a culture that no longer values masculinity tied to honor, and as long as boys are bereft of strong fathers and our young men and women wage sexual war, then we risk cultural suicide".
-Nancy

Memories of Yankee Stadium

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Click for availability and more information Memories of Yankee Stadium, by Scott Pitoniak

Since this is the last year for the original Yankee Stadium, I was naturally drawn to Memories of Yankee Stadium by Scott Pitoniak with a forward by Joe Torre. No matter what your baseball persuasion, you have to admit there is no greater shrine to baseball than the Cathedral in the Bronx. This book is a wonderful resource on the house that Ruth built. Did you know that 30 World Series have been played at Yankee Stadium, and that 26 were won by the Bronx Bombers? Or that Notre Dame played 24 football games there? There have also been numerous boxing matches, concerts and Papal visits. The book includes historic events as well as reminiscences of players, fans, members of the media and other athletes. Its an interesting memoir that is quick and easy to read. Reading this book is a great way to commemorate the greatest sporting venue of all time.
-Carl

War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq

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Click for availability and more information War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq, by Richard Engel

This addition to the ever-growing number of books about the Iraq war provides the reader with a front row seat to the horrors of the war as it unfolded. Engel, the NBC News Middle East Bureau Chief, uses his keen reporter's eye to describe the military action as well as the human dramas that were created as the fighting spread across Iraq. One of his moving descriptions of the brutality of the fighting involves the heart-breaking scene of a gravely injured American soldier who sheds a tear as he accepts the reality of his injury. Fluent in Arabic, he interviewed the main Iraqi figures as well as the Americans who were leading the US forces. His conversation with President George W. Bush is very interesting reading. War Journal is highly, highly recommended for those readers who want to learn about the Iraq war from an extremely knowledgeable source and one who can write an enormously readable and moving book.
-Roy

Click for availability and more information Bitter Winds: A Memoir Of My Years In China's Gulag, by Harry Wu and Carolyn Wakeman

Harry was an outstanding student and athlete at Beijing's Geology Insitute in 1960 was labeled a counterrevolutionary rightist, which meant being an outcast permanently. In April he was denounced and expelled, and sentenced to reeducation through labor. Until 1979 he lived and worked in prison labor camps. He learned survival skills from other prisoners, peasants and minor criminals, and to be concerned only for himself. He was beaten, tortured, and, during the great famine when many other prisoners died, he nearly starved to death. At that point, he suddenly realized "Human life has no value here... It has no more importance than a cigarette ash flicked in the wind. But if a person's life has no value, then the society that shapes that life has no value either. If the people mean no more than dust, then the society is worthless and does not deserve to continue." A gripping story that is hard to stop reading.
-Nancy

Hollywood Crows

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Click for availability and more information Hollywood Crows, by Joseph Wambaugh

As one who has not read a Wambaugh book in a long time, this reviewer was reminded what a terrifically enjoyable reading experience Wambaugh's books can be. Hollywood Crows is the sequel to Hollywood Station and it is top-notch. In this tale, the "CROWS" are those police officers who work within the Community Relations Office of the Los Angeles Police Department. Wambaugh has created some wonderfully rich characters as officers in this office. The major subplot revolves around Ali Aziz, owner of a Sunset Boulevard strip club, and his ex-wife Margot, with whom he is engaged in a nasty custody battle. Various police officers from the CROWS come in contact with these two sleazy characters as well as others who make up the citizens within their neighborhoods of responsibility. Wambaugh knows this territory well from his days as a LAPD detective and that is reflected in his writing. Hollywood Crows is highly recommended!
-Roy

Sailing to Capri

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Click for availability and more information Sailing to Capri, by Elizabeth Adler

If you enjoy a romance/mystery novel with a little armchair travel mixed in, then "Sailing to Capri", by Elizabeth Adler is the right book for you! Daisy Keene is without a job, broke, and her love-life is non-existent when she meets a stranger at a party and he takes her to dinner. She spends the next five years working for Bob Hardwick, as his trusted assistant and friend, only to be devastated when he is killed, and she suspects it was murder. Daisy's encounter with private investigator Harry Montana, who is investigating Hardwick's death, also has an impact on her life. Per Hardwick's last wishes, a group of suspects is assembled and invited on a cruise to Capri for the reading of the will. Sparks fly and personalities clash as secrets are revealed and past indiscretions are exposed. Amidst the beauty of Sorrento and the fashionable glitz of Saint-Tropez, readers are led on several high-sea adventures as the fabulous yacht moves steadily toward Capri. The author borrows from Agatha Christie when she assembles the suspects and allows the killer to be revealed with surprising twists and turns. I enjoyed this book so much that I have read four more of the author's other works, and intend to read them all!
-Debbie

They Did It With Love

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Click for availability and more information They Did It With Love, by Kate Morgenroth

Publisher's Weekly calls Kate Morgenroth's novel, They Did It With Love, a cross between Agatha Christie and Desperate Housewives. With a detailed Greenwich, Connecticut setting, Morgenroth richly describes the characters and locales in this smart and layered mystery. Sophie Wright, a mystery bookstore owner in Manhattan, is happy with her husband and career in New York City. When her wealthy father dies, her husband Dean, pressures her to move to Greenwich, CT and makes sure she is invited to the exclusive neighborhood mystery book club. (Yes, it does sound a little like the Stepford movie). Sophie becomes involved in the complicated lives of the book club members and their husbands. When Julia, the least liked member of the group is found hanging from a tree in her front yard, Sophie uses her amateur sleuthing skills to prove that Julia didn't commit suicide. The more she finds out about the complicated lives of her neighbors, the more the plot thickens. PS... Prepare yourself for the surprise ending you never saw coming.
-Kathy C.

Finding Nouf

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Click for availability and more information Finding Nouf, by Zoe Ferraris

In her first novel, Zoe Ferraris has woven what could have been an ordinary story of the search for Nouf, a young woman who suddenly disappears, into a very interesting and extremely readable tale. The unique key is that Nouf is the 16 year old daughter of a wealthy Saudi family and she vanishes into the Saudi desert. The search to find out why she ran away from her family becomes the center of the story. Her older brother Othman enlists the help of Nayir Sharqi, a guide who escorts wealthy Saudis on desert expeditions, to first find his young sister and then uncover the reasons for her fate. Othman also seeks the professional help of his finance Katya, who is a technician in the coroner's office. At one point in her life, Ferraris married into an extended family of Saudi-Palestinian Bedouins. It is from that experience that she has presumably written so compellingly about life in the Saudi kingdom, especially for young women. Finding Nouf is not only a well-crafted mystery, but also a fascinating window into the cloistered private lives of modern Saudis.
-Roy

The Goliath Bone

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Click for availability and more information The Goliath Bone, by Mickey Spillane

Although Mickey Spillane passed away in July, 2006, he managed to leave behind an unfinished manuscript for what was intended to be the final novel starring his hard-boiled private eye character Mike Hammer. Completed by fellow mystery writer and family friend Max Allen Collins (Road to Perdition), the newly published The Goliath Bone sends Hammer on a "new direction" (as Collins puts it in the afterword), battling terrorists in a post-9/11 New York City. While coping with the realities of old age (including getting his AARP card and settling down with his long-time girl friend and partner Velda, whose last name is finally revealed after all these years), Hammer tries to protect the title artifact from vicious killers, but discovers (as is usually the case) that not everybody is whom they seem to be. A great, unexpectedly violent (even for Spillane) climax, strong vivid characters (including a take-off on certain well-known Broadway promoters and media personalities), plus a murderous seven-foot, three inch assassin, also named Goliath, who goes after Hammer), a bizarre analogy with the original 1933 King Kong movie that figures in the aforementioned climatic scene, and a stunning, ironic epilogue that harkens back to Spillane's first Hammer novel, I, the Jury (1947), make this novel a wonderful send-off for fans of Spillane and Hammer. We'll miss ya, guys!
-Ed

Submarine

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Click for availability and more information Submarine, by Joe Dunthorne

This debut novel is the next in line on the long list of great novels about adolescence. 15 year-old Oliver Tate has a lot on his mind; he's convinced his parent's marriage is on the rocks, which causes him to undertake devious methods of monitoring their sex life. He's got a new girlfriend named Jordana; she's a handful. Plus, there are the usual high school dramas to contend with. What's a boy to do? In Oliver's case he makes a series of grand misjudgments and poor decisions, some comical and others downright foolish. He is both an unreliable narrator and cheeky hero. He's both full of himself and frequently clueless...but at least he's trying. Although veering rather closely to Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole series, which covers similar ground and shares the diary form Dunthorne uses in this book, Submarine strikes a more realistic tone. Life in the Welsh coastal city of Swansea is like life anywhere else, it seems. Dunthorne also manages to rise above the sappiness that can often surface in novels about teenagers. Oliver Tate imagines he has quite a bit to overcome. Once his psychic victory is at hand, it's put forth by Dunthorne with a calm and gently funny scene featuring Oliver and family, at ease...at least for the time being.
-Stephen

City of Thieves

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Click for availability and more information City of Thieves, by David Benioff

This new novel has received a lot of great reviews for David Benioff. He has also gained great notoriety as a screenwriter, most recently for The Kite Runner. City of Thieves begins with a screenwriter talking with his grandfather and asking about the elder's experiences living through the brutal siege of Leningrad by the Germans during World War II. When pressed for details, the grandfather tells his grandson, "you're a writer. Make it up." From there, the story shifts to the Leningrad during the days when the Germans surrounded that city and attempted to starve and bomb Leningrad and the Russians into submission. Lev Beniov is young, idealistic and stayed in Leningrad after his other family members fled to supposed safety in the Russian interior. His adventures become the center of the story. Fate leads him to be arrested and interrogated by a Russian colonel along with Kolya, a deserter from the Russian army. An unlikely pair thrown together during days of war, Beniov and Kolya are promised freedom if they can accomplish the seemingly impossible mission of finding a dozen eggs in the ravaged city as a personal favor for the colonel. Determined to accomplish that task to escape the Russian army's grasp, they wander through sections of Leningrad and the surrounding area and witness the horrendous suffering during the siege. Benioff has created a very interesting and readable novel and is recommended reading, especially for those interested in this subject. By the way, Benioff gives great acknowledgement and praise to Harrison Salisbury's acclaimed account of this event, The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad. It is also in the Greenwich Library's collection.
-Roy

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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