Thursday, January 25, 2007

some fresh book reviews

Book-review page for 2007 is up now, kicking off with these three reviews:

A Short Guide to Writing about Film by Timothy Corrigan
Slim, steeply-priced volume which deals tidily with the subject promised by the title. Clearly intended for a classroom environment, although general readers wanting more methods for thinking about film might be able to extract something from it as well. (My students are using this book this semester; we'll see how it goes.)

Within the Context of No Context by George W.S. Trow
Encompassing a 1980 New Yorker article and a 1997 companion piece, Trow's book is an exercise in stylish despair. At its most basic level it functions as a critique of a media-based society, but this book is neither manifesto nor jeremiad--it's something altogether more sly. For every point made by an incisive aphorism there's another made only obliquely, by way of, say, a witty anecdote, or an evocative coinage. As a result the critique here is essentially slippery: it seems to explain everything, but by way of not actually explaining anything. Tricky. (Also oddly riddled with typos: you'd think Atlantic Monthly Press would be able to scrape up a few proofreaders.)

The Divine Invasion by Philip K. Dick
PKD at his loopy best: starts out as a spirituality-based thriller (what if Christ were secretly reborn in a dystopian future?), but by the book's midpoint the entire universe has become queasy and unhinged as the novel's theological forces grapple and debate. Messier than Valis and with more "wtf?" moments, but a worthy follow-up nevertheless.

A few more coming soon(ish), and as always, anyone wanting a more real-time-ish feed of my reviews can find such a thing on this LibraryThing feed page.

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