Thursday, November 3, 2011

NYT Glowing Review for the iBio

After Steve Jobs anointed Walter Isaacson as his authorized biographer in 2009, he took Mr. Isaacson to see the Mountain View, Calif., house in which he had lived as a boy. He pointed out its “clean design” and “awesome little features.” He praised the developer, Joseph Eichler, who built more than 11,000 homes in California subdivisions, for making an affordable product on a mass-market scale. And he showed Mr. Isaacson the stockade fence built 50 years earlier by his father, Paul Jobs.

“He loved doing things right,” Mr. Jobs said. “He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.”
Mr. Jobs, the brilliant and protean creator whose inventions so utterly transformed the allure of technology, turned those childhood lessons into an all-purpose theory of intelligent design. He gave Mr. Isaacson a chance to play by the same rules. His story calls for a book that is clear, elegant and concise enough to qualify as an iBio. Mr. Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” does its solid best to hit that target. 

As a biographer of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, Mr. Isaacson knows how to explicate and celebrate genius: revered, long-dead genius. But he wrote “Steve Jobs” as its subject was mortally ill, and that is a more painful and delicate challenge. (He had access to members of the Jobs family at a difficult time.) Mr. Jobs promised not to look over Mr. Isaacson’s shoulder, and not to meddle with anything but the book’s cover. (Boy, does it look great.) And he expressed approval that the book would not be entirely flattering. But his legacy was at stake. And there were awkward questions to be asked. At the end of the volume, Mr. Jobs answers the question “What drove me?” by discussing himself in the past tense.

- Janet Maslin, for The New York Times.

Read the rest of the review here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ready to Rumpus

Maurice Sendak, author of 'Where the Wild Things Are,' is back after 30 years with a new book called Bumble-Ardy.

Bumble-Ardy is the first book Maurice Sendak has both written and illustrated in 30 years. I called him the other day to talk about it, and we were both surprised it had been that long. “Jesus,” he said. “What have I been doing?” We went through a list. He designed operas here and abroad, illustrated dozens of books—by Tony Kushner and Herman Melville and Shakespeare, among many others—and had a best-seller just a few years ago, in Mommy?, a pop-up book about a boy looking for his mother in a haunted mansion.
But in terms of a book completely his own, Bumble-Ardy is the first since 1981’s Outside Over There. Not that he wants to make a big deal out of it. “People from New York have been calling, to see if I’m still alive. When I answer the phone, you can hear the disappointment in their voice.”
Sendak’s sense of humor is pitch-black and ribald, though this fact, and the baroque essence of his work, is often lost on readers now that his books have become canonical. “A woman came up to me the other day and said, ‘You’re the kiddie-book man!’ I wanted to kill her.” He hates to be thought of as safe or his work as classic, and he won’t tolerate overpraise. “My work is not great, but it’s respectable. I have no false illusions.”
He’s wrong, of course. Sendak is the best-known, and by most measures simply the best, living creator of picture books, and in the stretch of years since his most prolific period—when he made In the Night Kitchen, Where the Wild Things Are, Kenny’s Window, The Sign on Rosie’s Door, and the “Nutshell Library”—his work has only grown in stature. No one has been more uncompromising, more idiosyncratic, and more in touch with the unhinged and chiaroscuro subconscious of a child.
- Dave Eggers, writing for Vanity Fair

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Penguin's Great Food Series

Great Food is an original series that brings together the sharpest, funniest, most delicious writing about food from the past four hundred years. Featuring twenty authors, the series is a heady mixture of recipes, literature and simple pleasures of hearing from distinctive voices from history. This series celebrates food writing as writing, revives forgotten, inspirational chefs and writers whose works will inspire cooks and readers everywhere.

The Great Food series offers something for every food lover: the enthusiastic cook who bites the bullet and makes their own haschiche fudge or mutton with oysters; the armchair foodie, reading for inspiration and pleasure; the social history lover who relishes the chance to peek inside a Victorian kitchen; and everybody who appreciates evocative, intimate and entertaining writing.

See the rest of the series here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rock on

When Sammy Hagar appeared at Left Bank Books in St. Louis in March to autograph copies of his memoir, it was not a typical book signing.

Sammy Hagar's memoir, “Red,” sold at least 61,000 copies in hardcover.
Mr. Hagar, the former Van Halen lead singer, started sipping tequila as soon as the event began. Police officers were hired to provide security. And nervous bookstore employees pleaded with eager female fans not to lift their shirts in front of Mr. Hagar when they reached the signing table.
“Nobody did,” said Kris Kleindienst, the relieved bookstore owner.
Such are the perils of working with the rock ’n’ roll legends who have lined up to write their life stories lately, a group that includes Keith Richards, Ozzy Osbourne, Patti Smith, Pete Townshend, Bob Mould and Gregg Allman.
In a squirrely market for books, the rock memoir has taken off, spurring publishers to pursue more book deals with musicians willing to tell their stories.

- Julie Bosman, New York Times

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Bedtime Will Never Be The Same

The nightly climb up the stairs to Bedfordshire is supposed to be a time of parent-child bonding and sleepy tranquility. The little darlings dress themselves obediently in their pyjamas and clutch hot water bottles dreamily to their chests murmuring: "I love you, Mummy and Daddy."

In reality they want "just one more" repeat of Come Dine With Me. When they have already watched three. And, despite it already being several hours past the time they are supposed to be asleep, they now want you to read to them. You intone the words of Peepo, The Gruffalo or The Smartest Giant in Town as if you were a mass murderer.

Now comes the backlash – in the form of children's bedtime books designed for adults. Goodnight Keith Moon by Bruce Worden and Clare Cross published in the UK this week, is already a cult hit in the US. "Morbidly funny," according to the New Yorker, it's a spoof of the children's classic Goodnight Moon, told through the eyes of the Who's late drummer. A trashed hotel room replaces the sleepy child's bedroom. Instead of the bowl of mush featured in the original, there are pills everywhere: "And some whiskey and fish and some more in a dish, And the ghost of Cass Elliott whispering shhh."

It's already a trend with Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes, on its third print run in the US.

We can expect more of this stuff. There's already Porn For New Moms: photographs of beefcake guys feeding babies in the style of a children's picture book. And there's the "Baby Be Useful" series: Baby Mix Me a Drink, Baby Fix My Car, Baby Do My Banking. My favourite? All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen: "If you're a dinosaur, all your friends are dead. If you're a pirate, all your friends have scurvy." Genius.
- Viv Groskop, The Guardian

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Tiger's Wife: Orange Prize 2011 winner

Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Obreht, the youngest of "The New Yorker's" 20 best American fiction writers under 40, spins a timeless novel about a young doctor who confronts the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death.

"... highly original, funny and frightening ... Her writing is remarkable, but she doesn't show off, nor does she ask too much of our imaginations. Like the characters in the story, we are easily drawn to the unbelievable elements of this tale because they sweep us away from the real world" - The Economist

Paperback is available for only R99 from Pulp Books.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Man with a Pan

“Man With a Pan,” edited by the cartoonist, writer and New Yorker editor John Donohue, is a rangy, toothsome, timely and occasionally wince-inducing collection of essays by kitchen dads, men who do most of the cooking in their families.
“Man With a Pan” contains essays (and recipes) by marquee names including Stephen King — isn’t it time he set a scary novel in a Hardee’s? — and Mario Batali. But the best pieces here, the line-caught beauties, are by people you’ve probably barely heard of.
 "Jesse Sheidlower, editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, delivers a piercing essay about his insecure need to give lavish dinner parties, as seen though the prism of his failing marriage. “Cooking had become a distraction and a source of solace in a marriage that no longer offered its own consolations,” he writes. His painful piece is also funny. When he begins dating a vegetarian and becomes one himself, a friend calls this shift a “sexually transmitted eating disorder.” 

 "Wesley Stace is best-known as a singer-songwriter who performs under the name John Wesley Harding, but he’s also written three novels. If his flinty essay here is any indication of what those novels are like, I need to pack one for the lake this summer. He nails the idiotic gender division of labor at some meals, observing about his family: “The men carved what the women cooked (a remarkable piece of last-minute scene-stealing), as though sharp knives were too dangerous for women outside the kitchen.” 

- Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Read the rest of the review here.