Weekend Update for the Button-Down Mind

The new Baltimore Sun column features reviews of new titles by Richard Montanari, Michael Marshall, Fred Vargas and Judy Clemens.

NYTBR: Oh man, is there much fodder for bewilderment and snark this weekend. First up is the cover review of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS by none other than…Christopher Hitchens. WTF? Can he have spent anything more than half an hour writing this in a single sitting with his favorite alcoholic beverage, in copious quantities, by his side? I think not.

Then we have Marilyn Stasio’s column, giving good props as it does to James Lee Burke and Olen Steinhauer, but then, I must wonder: why on earth were both Rupert Thomson and Stef Penney relegated to the roundup? Sure, Stasio’s reviewed many a literary crime novel before, but I wouldn’t count either book as belonging in that category – more literary novels that center around some criminal element, which is a big difference. So again, NYTBR, I say WTF?

Otherwise, Paul Greenberg wonders if the tuna shortage is related to Hemingway; Ada Calhoun gorges on the feast that is SIN IN THE SECOND CITY; and Liesl Schillinger’s take on Stephenie Meyer’s ECLIPSE does not require much in the way of snarking, although now I am very, very curious to know what she thinks about all things Sweet Valley High.

WaPo Book World: David Streitfeld looks at the legacy of Gunter Grass, perhaps tarnished by his recent memoir PEELING THE ONION (reviewed here by Joel Agee); Jonathan Yardley has some fun with a new book about the Rockefeller clan; and a new book postulates whether Lenin was as bad as Stalin & Hitler.

LA Times: Kerry Fried is bowled over by Charlotte Mendelson’s gift for social satire; Donna Seaman takes a gander at Mary Gordon’s memoir of her mother; and a new book allows Ed Park to examine a more mechanistic view of the world.

G&M: Charles Foran comments on the latest entry in a genre known as Joyce Carol Oates; Sara O’Leary enjoys the latest quandary to befall Alexander McCall Smith’s philosophical heroine Isabel Dalhousie; and Judith Fitzgerald explains what makes David Markson such a friggin’ genius. Though as one of the critics who picked Markson for that New York Magazine piece, I think WITTGENSTEIN’S MISTRESS is his best book but not necessarily the place to start if you’ve not read his work before.

Guardian Review: James Kelman reflects on his writing life; Ben Okri continues his quest to chronicle Africa as it is; Germaine Greer salutes the “best bad book she knows”; And David Peace’s idiosyncratic vision of Tokyo appeals to Ian Sansom.

Observer: Tim Adams talks with William Gibson about the impetus for SPOOK COUNTRY; Lavinia Greenlaw reveals to Alex Clark how much music defined her during her formative years; and Robert McCrum goes along for the ride of Norman Stone’s account of WWI.

The Times: Andrew O’Hagan talks to Norman Mailer about living through WWII; Francesca Simon, Douglas Kennedy and Sue Margolis talk about what it’s like to be successful elsewhere and unpublished in your own country; Stefanie Marsh thinks Ian McEwan has run out of ideas; Peter Millar believes readers have finally caught up with William Gibson’s vision of the future;

The Scotsman: Lee Randall meets Mark Gatiss, man of a thousand faces and projects; a new book by a friend of Anne Frank illuminates her life in great detail, David Robinson discovers; Alexander McCall Smith reports back from the Botswana set of the #1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY movie; Catherine Deveney talks with Christopher Brookmyre 10 books into his writing career; and Claire Black is glad to see Paddy Meehan develop further in Denise Mina’s latest novel.

The Rest:

Lucy Sussex’s roundup of Australian crime writing for the Melbourne Age is a must-read.

In his column for the Chicago Tribune, Paul Goat Allen reviews recent offerings from Jason Starr, Warren Ellis, Cornell Woolrich, Michael Koryta and Richard Montanari.

At the Sun-Sentinel, Oline Cogdill greatly enjoys Michael Marshall’s new paranoia thriller THE INTRUDERS and Chauncey Mabe talks to Daniel Silva about his new novel, THE SECRET SERVANT.

Adam Woog reviews new crime offerings from Rupert Thomson, Nik Kane, Michael Robotham, Fred Vargas and Alexander McCall Smith.

The Telegraph runs Jake Kerridge’s thriller roundup and Susanna Yager’s take on crime novels by Gianrico Carofiglio and Bernhard Schlink. Also, David Robson appreciates the flavor of 1830s Istanbul more than the mystery in Jason Goodwin’s second novel.

David Peace explains to the Yomiuri Daily Times why after 13 years living in Tokyo, he’s finally set one of his books there.

The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles has a cover story on “Jewish pulp fiction” – historical novels based on biblical characters.