LA Times Book Review - a New Passion!
Increasingly, the Sunday LA Times Book Review has become my favorite section of the paper. David L. Ulin was named the new editor of the review back in August and, boy howdy, is he doing a good job with the book review. Yesterday's review section was their best yet. From the opening review (by Chris Abani) of Jorge Franco's novel "Paradise Travel" to the superb, full page review (by William Deverell) of "Frank Norris: a Life" by Joseph R. McElrath Jr. and Jesse S. Crisler, there isn't a boring or marginal book in the whole section. The review is twelve pages in length, with very few ads to break the flow of reading, and the range of subjects and quality of writing is outstanding. My favorite review in this issue is the delicious vivisection of Bernard-Henry Levy's pompous "American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville" by Marianne Wiggins. One sentence in particular had me slapping my leg in delight;
Whereas peppering a magazine article with famous names makes for a quick and jazzy read, "American Vertigo" begins to sound less like "Democracy in America" or "On the Road" and more like "Celebrity in America" or "On the Make"
At a time when many major newspapers are eliminating or drastically reducing their book review sections, the LA Times seems to be bucking the trend. I remember being passionately attached to the NY Times book review back in the 80's; maybe I've finally found a new review to get excited about. Bravo, Mr. Ulin!
PS, Because of the Norris bio we've had a run on his book "McTeague" and are now out of stock. Fortunately, it's still in print.