Book Review Roundup: A History Of Information And Short Stories Galore
"Give Me Your Heart" by Joyce Carol Oates
Oates isn't writing horror fiction, but she might as well be. Her stories pack the same kind of visceral wallop, and she employs many of its classic themes and tropes: innocence lost, social order violated, wrongs and injustice -- or, in some cases, misperceived slights -- leading to acts of violent retribution.
"The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood" by James Gleick
The story of the telegraph is central to "The Information," which is a wide-ranging, deeply researched and delightfully engaging history -- going back to Homer and Socrates (who distrusted written language as a corruption of pure memory) and extending, in loosely chronological fashion, to our contemporary culture of downloads and data clouds -- of how we have come to occupy a world defined in bits and bytes.
"Ten Good Reasons to Lie About Your Age" by Stephanie Zia
I would recommend this book for reading and book clubs. It is insightful and delightful, full of thoughtful dialogue and exceptional clarity. Sally feels real, like a neighbor or a friend and that makes the story take on a presence of its own. It is a story of hope and learning to love yourself, to find that inner you that sometimes is lost when we make other's lives more important than our own.
"The Social Animal" by David Brooks
Life, morality and politics are not science, but their improvement requires thought -- not only thought about the most effective means of shaping people, which is Brooks's concern, but thought about what our ends should be. Such questions don't appeal to him, since they cannot be settled by empirical evidence of the kind he feels comfortable with. Brooks is out to expose the superficiality of an overly rational view of human nature, but there is more than one kind of superficiality.
"The Tiger's Wife" by Téa Obreht
With only the faintest undercurrent of grief pulsing under her prose, Obreht reminds us that all our edifices of meaning and safety - our science and rationality, our rituals of superstition - are equally ineffective in the face of the ultimately uncontrollable.
"Falling Sideways" by Thomas E. Kennedy
By contrast "Falling Sideways" is that rarest of commodities in American literary fiction, a novel about men and women at work; it is part-satire and part-drama, and it is very smart.