| May 22, 2011
Here at Book Review, we know what looked good to us on the summer bookshelves, but we couldn't help but wonder what some of our favorite authors were looking forward to tossing in their travel bag or bringing out to the backyard or the beach for one of...
| Jun 27, 2010
It was long after dark when Henry Sweets brought me to Hannibal's Old Baptist Cemetery, "a graveyard of the old-fashioned Western kind."
No moon. Ragged weeds, crumbling gravestones. We tried to tread lightly, but it had been raining, and mud grabbed...
| Sep 2, 2007
They wait like pilgrims, queuing silently, bearing volumes for inscription and awaiting a chance to touch the hem of his garment.
They're not Franciscans approaching Assisi but earnest readers rushing bookstores and cultural temples for word -- wisdom,...
| Sep 20, 2009
When I was in my early 20s, living in Berkeley and drifting toward a PhD in Russian literature, I started writing poetry. It was a completely unexpected development. I definitely hadn't been one of those kids in high school who worked for the literary...
| Sep 27, 2009
The Wilderness Warrior
Theodore Roosevelt and the
Crusade for America
Harper: 960 pp., $34.99
Reviewing several Roosevelt biographies in 1920, H.L. Mencken reported that he had found more "gush" than "sense." Douglas Brinkley's...
| Oct 4, 2009
Daunting as it may be to assemble a centuries-spanning assessment of any country, even one with a fairly linear march through history, how does one approach a culture as unstable, contradictory and contested as ours? Where do you start? Where do you stop?...
| Apr 6, 2009
I'm impatient by nature. But I thought I had learned how to remain still in yoga classes, coaxing calm and patience from an overactive mind. I thought I learned patience when my daughter was born 2 1/2 weeks late. But I didn't really learn anything...
| Oct 19, 2008
When John Adams, the celebrated composer who is to his adopted California as Sibelius is to Finland, decided to write a memoir of his life and music, he realized there was virtually no model for his project.
"Most composers," he said over lunch at an...
| Dec 20, 2009
It was already clear, in December of 1999, that books were a dying species. Already more people seemed interested in producing novels than consuming them, and when it came to serious works, there seemed more fascination with the writer than the writing....
| Sep 12, 2010
Selected Poems and Commentaries
Harvard University Press: 530 pp., $35
I'm just a regular reader, you say. I read for pleasure. Why should I read the commentaries of critic Helen Vendler on the "epigrammatic, terse, abrupt,...
| Oct 3, 2010
Poems and Prose Poems
Beacon Press: 96 pp., $23
"What can I say that I have not said before?" the poet Mary Oliver wonders on page 1 of this, her 20th collection. "So I'll say it again./The leaf has a song in it." She is a little...