Passing Through with the Weekend Update

First, it’s a two-fer from me this weekend as I review Barbara Gowdy’s HELPLESS for the Los Angeles Times and Michael Lowenthal’s CHARITY GIRL for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

NYTBR: Golly gee, it’s like the Book Review discovered fiction again. First, Joshua Ferris is the cover boy, getting review love from James Poniewozik; David Kamp dubs Jonathan Lethem’s latest novel as more of a B-Side; Julia Scheeres completely misses the friggin’ point about Lionel Shriver’s THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD; Terrence Rafferty digs out the horror in Dan Simmons’ THE TERROR; and while not fiction, Walter Kirn tries to find a good way to review William Vollmann’s ruminations on the plight of the poor.

And in the Magazine, Ben Neihart gets inside the mind of Joe Hill, fanning out to discuss the state of horror fiction and all the other writers within or married to the King family.

WaPo Book World: Joe Heim plays the appropriation game in reviewing Jonathan Lethem’s new novel; Michael Collins is intrigued by Andrew Wilson’s Highsmith-tinged debut; and Allan Brandt’s new book charts the rise and fall of that pesky, smokeable object known as the cigarette.

LA Times: G-Unit Books is launched and street-lit will never quite be the same; Julia Klein checks in with a new trend of taking minor characters from classic novels and building up books all about them; Christine Smallwood delves into the grimy underworld of Natsuo Kirino’s GROTESQUE; and the man behind GODEL, ESCHER, BACH returns to that book’s earlier themes with a new tome, to Jesse Cohen’s delight.

G&M: Gayle McDonald wonders what’s up with all this Jane Austen-mania; Anton Kuerti judges a forgotten pianistic genius; and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Maeve Binchy offers a tribute to all manner of Irish-themed books.

Guardian Review: A previously unpublished essay by Susan Sontag is now available, as is a tribute by her son David Rieff; Helon Habila rereads an early Caribbean immigrant novel, THE LOVELY LONDONERS; Maya Jaggi meets Edgar Keret, deemed the brash voice of young Israelis; and Antonia Fraser shows off her writing office.

Observer: Rafael Behr digs into the latest mutation of chick lit – “yummy mummy” lit; Robert McFarlane points out that plagiarism and appropriation has been around for centuries; and Polly Vernon feels a little more airheaded after reading Colleen McLaughlin’s “biography”.

The Times: Edward Dolnick’s tale of art theft has the feel of a thriller, says Tim Teeman; Marina Lewycka is profiled as her sophomore effort makes its way to bookstores; Louise Wener explains her Britpop-to-novelist reinvention; and Marcel Berlins reviews new crime fiction titles by Reginald Hill, Tana French and Kathryn Fox.

The Scotsman: Ian Rankin picks the top ten most influential books of his writing life; Laura Hird explains why her mother was crucial for writing her newest book; and Stuart Kelly hopes the Booker judges pay close attention to AL Kennedy’s new novel.

The Rest:

The current it book has to be Joshua Ferris’ THEN WE CAME TO THE END. Not only has it been getting love from every corner, but there are currently over 50,000 copies in print after Little, Brown went back to press a couple of times. John Freeman at the Boston Globe compares it favorably to the movie OFFICE SPACE; Edward Champion, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has a more contrarian and pluralist view.

Speaking of Ed, he’s also got a review of Richard Gwyn’s THE COLOR OF A DOG RUNNING AWAY in Newsday. And speaking of Newsday, one of my favorite reviews this week appears there, courtesy Bethany Schneider.

Oline Cogdill offers reviews the latest books by two of the best in the business, T. Jefferson Parker & Laura Lippman.

Also at the Sun-Sentinel, Chauncey Mabe talks with Jon Clinch about the impetus for FINN, review reactions and forthcoming projects.

Daniel Woodrell talks with the Springfield News-Leader about his latest book, his wife’s latest book, and keeping a low profile. 

The Lewiston Sun Journal talks with Sheriff Wayne Gallant, unwittingly immortalized by name in Jo Dereske’s mystery series.

Joanne Fluke talks with the St. Paul Pioneer Press about writing cozies where “nothing ever really bad happens”, her turn on the New York Times bestseller lists, and looking for the tastiest recipes.

The Freep’s Marta Salij meets Colleen Gleason, the epitome of perserverance after her ninth manuscript – a vampire regency – was published last year.

Random House editor-at-large, cat lover and thriller writer Peter Gethers answers five questions for USA TODAY.

The Miles Franklin shortlist is particularly dark this year, discovers the Sydney Morning Herald.

What are the favorite reads of footballers? Naturally, the Independent finds out.

Marian Keyes tells the Telegraph why dark times allowed her to write her bestselling women’s fiction novels.