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Book Review Roundup

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In case you missed any of the weekend's book reviews, here is your weekly book review roundup:

"36 Arguments for the Existence of God", Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
The New York Times

Overcomplicated yet dazzling, sparked by frequent flashes of nonchalant brilliance, "36 Arguments for the Existence of God" affirms Ms. Goldstein's rare ability to explore the quotidian and the cosmological with equal ease.

"Shocking True Story", Henry E. Scott
The New York Times

Mr. Scott took his inspiration from James Ellroy's novel "L.A. Confidential," and he has traced the magazine's trajectory with a faintly academic zeal. He winds up with a short book, a long bibliography and a cautionary tale about the wisdom of flagrant tell-all tactics.

"Where the God of Love Hangs Out", Amy Bloom
The Los Angeles Times

The first thing you notice in this wise and resounding collection, this community of linked stories, is Bloom's familiarity with her audience. She has a kitchen-counter style that may or may not come from her years as a psychotherapist.

"The Unnamed", Joshua Ferris
The San Francisco Chronicle

At once riveting, horrifying and deeply sad, "The Unnamed," like Tim's feet, moves with a propulsion all its own. This is fiction with the force of an avalanche, snowballing unstoppably until it finally comes to rest - when we come to the end, so to speak.

"The God Patent", Ransom Stephens
The San Francisco Chronicle

"The God Patent" is the fourth book that new boutique publisher Numina Press of San Rafael has put out as a result of, the so-called YouTube for documents that allows authors to pretest the selling power of their books. With its epic themes grounded in authentic science, "The God Patent" is not something one of the so-called Big Sisters of publishing would necessarily pursue from a first-time author.

"Eternity Soup", Greg Critser
The Wall Street Journal

To write a book about human aging, therefore, is not easy, a bit like writing a book about gravity before Newton. In "Eternity Soup" Greg Critser has solved the problem rather neatly by meandering through the subject, meeting first the snake-oil salesmen, then the hard-headed scientists and along the way people who cannot quite be pigeonholed as either.

"U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth", Joan Waugh
The New Republic

...Grant's full vindication--which will render him one of the greatest presidents of his era, if not of all American history--still awaits. But when it comes, we will better understand our complicated history, and historians and citizens will have Joan Waugh to thank for helping to make this belated illumination possible.

"The Conservative Turn", Michael Kimmage
The New Republic

Kimmage traces in considerable detail the circuitous paths that led Chambers and Trilling into and out of the communist orbit. But he is equally interested in the contribution of each man's anti-communism to the development--and more important, the moderation--of political ideology in postwar America. (That is the "conservative turn" to which Kimmage's title refers.)

"Couples: The Truth", Kate Figes
The Guardian

Kate Figes is a champion of modern marriage and cohabitation, and believes that as the sexes become more equal our relationships are getting better. Her book looks "beyond the outdated feminist understanding of marriage as an institution which ­symbolises the exploitation of women" and argues that we do not give ourselves enough credit for the progress we have made.

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