[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
Hello, Goodbye, Hello, by Craig Brown. Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times.
I’m not a huge fan of Michiko Kakutani, but this review deserves notice mostly because it’s the only place I’ve heard of Craig Brown’s book, which sounds quite interesting. Hello Goodbye Hello is British parodist Brown’s collection of essays about meetings between famous people. There are 101 such meetings, like the one between Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot (who both loved cats and puns), or the one where Marilyn Monroe tries to commission a house from Frank Lloyd Wright. Each of Brown’s accounts of these meetings uses 1001 words, so the book comes out to eactly 101,101 words. This is a fully bizarre concept, but if Brown’s style is as entertaining as Kakutani claims (which it might or might not be, hence the trouble with Kakutani’s reviews), then this could be a winner. Find this book at Goodreads.
The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller. Reviewed by Michele Filgate in the Star Tribune.
This Indie Next pick is yet another novel about the post-apocalypse. This one documents the aftermath of a flu pandemic, and focuses on two survivors living in an airport. I’m about full up on post-apocalypse fiction, but this one has as good a chance (or better) at success as any other during this neverending trend. Find this book at Goodreads.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. Reviewed by Bob Minzesheimer in USA Today.
Joyce’s odd novel follows Harold Fry, obviously, as he impulsively attempts to hand-deliver a letter to a dying friend, walking the length of England in his yacht shoes. Minzesheimer liked it, as did the Booker prize judges: it was longlisted for this year’s award. Find this book at Goodreads.
In brief: Jim Holt, a science writer, tries to answer the question: “Why is there something instead of nothing?” … Carolyn Kellogg recommends a chilling true-crime book. … David L. Ulin usually writes sharp reviews, so this dud mystifies me. In it, he wonders why John Banville writes his mysteries under a pen name (because he writes non-mysteries under his real name), and doesn’t seem to get the simple pleasures of a Benjamin Black book. … Ron Charles tries to save an indie bookstore. … Marc Maron wrote a book of essays “despite himself.”