[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, by Etgar Keret. Reviewed by Steve Almond in the New York Times.
Steve Almond turns in a characteristically insightful and entertaining piece about Etgar Keret’s new book of stories. Almond expounds about reality and publishing, and makes Keret’s stories sound pretty damn good—he calls them “exhilarating” and “funny,” and Almond has a keen sense of humor himself. He also, however, notes that Keret’s style is “unadorned” and “expository,” and that the collection as a whole is uneven. Still, a writer of Almond’s notable creativity noting the imagination of a collection, as he does here, is high praise indeed.
The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O. Wilson. Reviewed by Colin Woodard in the Washington Post.
Wilson’s latest book deserves attention simply by virtue of his resume, which Woodard details for almost half the review. Suffice it to say, Wilson is legit. In this latest volume, Wilson examines the nature and cause of altruism. The accepted scientific explanation for this, he says, is wrong, and the answer he now espouses explains, in one aspect, how religion itself is an evolutionary byproduct. Fascinating stuff.
Sailor, by Tom Epperson. Reviewed by Nancie Claire in the L.A. Times.
I’m not sure I ever need to read another novel about the witness protection program (this one was more than enough), but I also have a terrible weakness for “noir thrillers,” and this one looks to fit that bill: a mob wife in witness protection (for ratting out her husband) learns she’s being hunted by both her husband’s people and a crooked U.S. Marshal. She flees to the edge of a continent, and gets help from a pseudonymous sailor named Gray. Depending on Epperson’s character work, this could be terrible or terrific.
In brief: The obligatory books about the Titanic, on the 100th anniversary of its sinking. … Can’t get too many review of Fifty Shades of Grey—the Guardian finds it “innocent” and “fresh,” which is kinder than calling it out of touch and timid, but means essentially the same thing. … Women might rule the world sooner than you think. … The final novel of Olen Steinhauer’s ambitious Milo Weaver spy series. … Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting prequel probably isn’t the greatest novel since Trainspotting. … Nick Harkaway picks three favorite books. … A murder mystery for kids?