[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
Sound, by T.M. Wolf. Reviewed by Toby Litt in the Guardian.
Litt calls Sound ”extremely charming” but warns that it has “probably the most infuriating female character I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter.” The novel’s buzzable gimmick is its simultaneous dialogue and internal monologue, notated with the help of a musical score-like structure. Litt says the scheme works pretty well, though it’s “sure to annoy some readers a great deal, particularly lazy readers.” As far as plot, it’s an endearing but slight rom-com that takes place on the Jersey shore. As in Jersey, England, thank God. Find this book at Goodreads.
Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining Games We Love, by Dave Zirin and David Sirota. Reviewed by Tom Gallagher in the L.A. Review of Books.
As a kid growing up in Texas in the mid-90s, I sometimes wondered if Jerry Jones was intentionally destroying the Dallas Cowboys. (Upon buying the Cowboys, Jones immediately fired Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry, and replaced him with Jimmy Johnson. After Jimmy Johnson won consecutive Super Bowls, Jones tried to take all the credit and ran Johnson off in the process.) I guess he wasn’t the only owner to run afoul of common sense and decency: Zirin and Sirota have written an entire book about sports owners and their do-anything quest to wring every dollar out of their franchises, whether or not they strangle the franchise in the wringing. Find this book at Goodreads.
Broken Harbor, by Tana French. Reviewed by Patrick Anderson in the Washington Post.
Anderson enthuses a lot over French’s latest thriller, but I’m not convinced that the plot is so “ingenious”—even going by what Anderson himself writes of it. I’m also not sure that having a few characters whose sanity is in doubt makes for a “mind-bending” story. Find this book at Goodreads.
This Bright River, by Patrick Somerville. Reviewed by Andrew Ervin in the New York Times.
The Times’s habit of reviewing books twice gets even more infuriating when one of those reviews offers nothing more than a plot summary, as our own Mike Beeman pointed out. Such would be the case with Ervin’s review—a shruggable 450-word synopsis—except that the other Times review of This Bright River got the facts of the plot so backward that the paper issued a correction. A correction in a book review. That probably deserves a mulligan. Find this book at Goodreads.
In brief: The most pretentious line I read all week appeared, appropriately, in a review of the uber-pretentious Glen Duncan’s new sellout novel, Tallula Rising: “If literature is lacinato kale, genre is gelato.” Yikes. … Here’s a book I will never ever read: a comic political treatise cowritten by Meghan McCain and that guy from the State who tries too hard. … An Abraham Lincoln novel feels bland in comparison to “Vampire Hunter.”