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Book Review Roundup

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Did you miss any of the weekend's book reviews? Check out some of the highlights here!


"Witz," Stephen Burn
The New York Times

More than 800 pages long and the result of nine years' labor, Joshua Cohen's third novel, "Witz," is a deliberate act of excess that's also an exercise in omission -- the product of a negative aesthetic that emphasizes what isn't there. In telling the story of the last Jew alive, for example, Cohen omits the word "Jew."


"Role Models," John Waters
The New York Times

Unlike some other Nixon-era provocateurs, however -- the late Hunter S. Thompson comes to mind -- Waters hasn't been undone by the realization that he's not outrageous anymore.


"How Did You Get This Number," Sloane Crosley
The Los Angeles Times

Perhaps inevitably, this new work feels more self-conscious than that first book, which was written in blissful absence of expectations. Crosley's subjects -- international travel, childhood troubles, the search for an apartment -- sometimes seem the offshoots of an intensive mining of her pre-bestseller life.


"Not Fit for Our Society," Peter Schrag
The Los Angeles Times

What is it about immigration that drives America crazy mad, makes us forget who we are? Peter Schrag takes up that question in "Not Fit for Our Society," a thoughtful, especially timely look at the spasms of anti-immigration that have defined our nation from the very beginning.


"Tell-All," Chuck Palahniuk
The San Francisco Chronicle

Unfortunately, Palahniuk is unable to sustain the dreamlike, insane, Burroughs-esque world of the opening pages and abandons it for a bland and predictable plot that devolves into pointless "drivel [that] possibly constitutes some bizarre form of name-dropping Tourette's syndrome."


"The Facebook Effect," David Kirkpatrick
The San Francisco Chronicle

In "The Facebook Effect," the company's chief executive and guiding intelligence, a 26-year-old East Coast transplant named Mark Zuckerberg, comes across as a reclusive know-it-all, an irascible rebel prone to sophomoric pranks. Kirkpatrick profusely thanks Zuckerberg for his cooperation, but his is not an authorized account.


"Ghost Light," Joseph O'Connor
The London Telegraph

In a postscript to this novel the author somewhat ruefully explains: 'most events in this book never happened at all. Certain biographers will want to beat me with a turf-shovel'. Readers - of which Joseph O'Connor has legions - will, however, be delighted with a story which melds fact and fiction in the life of the Irish playwright J M Synge and his lover Molly Allgood.


"The Invisible Gorilla," Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
The Wall Street Journal

Our overestimation of our abilities has especially profound consequences, the authors argue, when it causes us to lose sight of our limitations and forget how fragile our perceptions may be. Our recollection of events may be more flawed than we know, but it is overconfidence in our memories that can lead us to send an innocent man to jail based on eyewitness testimony.


"In Pursuit of Silence," George Prochnick
The New Republic

The big challenge in fighting unnecessary noise was - and still is -- that the people making the racket rarely find it unnecessary. One person's cacophony is another's joyride.

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