[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
Walking to Hollywood, by Will Self. Reviewed by Paul Di Filippo (Barnes and Noble Review).
This book sounds a bit to me like The Erasers, by Alain Robbe-Grillet, which I like very much. Still, descriptions like “Surreal, scurrilous, solipsistic, sarcastic, and sardonic” make me a little wary, since I don’t want to read any Tao Lin. You can check out the review and decide for yourself what you think, but how can you not want to read a book described thusly?:
If Neorealist gloom-puss Michelangelo Antonioni had directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit, from a script by J. G. Ballard, S. J. Perelman, and Jean Baudrillard, starring Scooby Doo, the Marx Brothers, Laura Harring, and the ghost of Orson Welles, the result might very well have approximated Will Self’s latest offering, Walking to Hollywood
[Get a copy of Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall at Powell's.]
Embassytown, by China Miéville. Reviewed by James Purdon (Guardian).
I’ve got 2 or 3 of Miéville’s books on my shelf, but can never seem to get around to reading them. The descriptions of his novels tend to hook me enough to pick up the books, then release me from the line before I can actually open them. Most every major paper has a review of this sci-fi book out, so there’s a fair degree of hype. And once again, I find myself pretty intrigued: Purdon describes Embassytown as a work that “reminds us so ingeniously and enjoyably of the conditions of fiction, and of the power that fictional language retains to shape and reshape our transactions with the world” and relates it to Shakespeare’s The Tempest and works by political writers like Orwell, Burgess, Delany, and Lessing, among others. Seems pretty heavy for a book that takes place on a far planet and is chock full of aliens. I’m into it.
[Get a copy of Embassytown at Powell's.]
Chasing Aphrodite by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino. Reviewed by Wendy Smith (Los Angeles Times).
I’ve been long fascinated with ancient sculptures. It’s not uncommon for me to spend an enitre museum trip walking circles around the rooms with the ancient Greek and Roman marble figures that once adorned temples and coliseums. Of course, in order to get them to that museum, someone more or less had to steal these sculpture from ruins. These days, there’s more or less a process for doing this legitimately (namely, pay the country that houses the ruins), but there’s still plenty of room for nefariousness, even on the part of major museums. Chasing Aphrodite is a “scathing account” of the Getty Museum’s “ethically dubious activities in the antiquities market over the course of more than a quarter-century.” The book sounds pretty interesting, almost like a slow-mo art heist caper. The review’s worth a look to see if the book is up your alley.
Get a copy of Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum at Powell’s.
Bonus Book Trailer: This should have been titled Never Fuck (with) a Viscount just to confuse people.