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Sunday Book Reviews (and James Patterson)

Written on: January 25th, 2010 by: in Blog Posts

sfSpanThe feature article in this week’s New York Times magazine was a fascinating article about James Patterson’s one-man publishing industry. The internationally best-selling author comes over as very likable in the article, and certainly industrious. I have developed a great affection for him since his launch of a children’s literacy website, Read Kiddo Read. Patterson unashamedly writes for his audience, and while he himself is well-read, doesn’t really have literary pretensions:

Patterson considers himself as an entertainer, not a man of letters. Still, he bristles when he hears one of his books described as a guilty pleasure: “Why should anyone feel guilty about reading a book?” Patterson said that what he does — coming up with stories that will resonate with a lot of people and rendering them in a readable style — is no different from what King, Grisham and other popular authors do. “I have a saying,” Patterson told me. “If you want to write for yourself, get a diary. If you want to write for a few friends, get a blog. But if you want to write for a lot of people, think about them a little bit. What do they like? What are their needs? A lot of people in this country go through their days numb. They need to be entertained. They need to feel something.

Motoko Rich’s article about book clubs v. solitary readers was another interesting read, and included this link to a review site for young adult readers that is worth checking out (if you are a teen- you can’t register if you’re an adult).

Finally, the reviews!

  • Alison Weir’s new book on Anne Boleyn, The Lady in the Tower makes a case for the framing and judicial murder of Henry VIII’s young wife- with Weir’s own admissions that closer examination of the historical evidence has made her re-evaluate her own earlier writings such as those in The Six Wives of Henry VIII.
  • David Malouf retells the tragic story from Homer’s Iliad of King Priam’s attempt to ransom the body of his son Hector from his implacable enemy Achilles in Ransom. “That this tender novel lingers so long and hauntingly in the mind is a testament both to Malouf’s poetry and to his reverence for the endless power of myth”.
  • Vali Nasr, in Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class, examines the impact of the arrival of Western capitalism on traditional Islam, especially within the context of the extremist theology of radical Islamists such as Sayyid Qutb, one of the theoretical pillars of Al-Qaeda ideology. Nasr argues that the “Dubai Effect”- that is, the embrace of a less dogmatic interpretation of Islam and even the adoption of a more secular orientation by an emergent middle class will inevitably lead to a moderation and liberalization of Islamic nations.
  • An orphan searches for his identity in 1960’s Indonesia, in Tash Aw’s Map of the Invisible World
  • In Shira Nayman’s The Listener, a psychiatrist struggles to discover the secret of a shell-shocked soldier in the aftermath of the Second World War.