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Sunday’s Reviews

Written on: November 15th, 2010 by: in Blog Posts

This week’s New York Times book reviews included a number of new works by old favorites, rather than fresh discoveries. But these selected titles are no less welcome for that:

  • Siddharta Mukherjee’s ‘biography of cancer’, Emperor of all Maladies is loaded with the “queasy pivoting between despair and hope” that characterizes both the personal and historical experience with cancer and its treatment. Reaching back to its earliest mentions in Egyptian papyrii, Mukherjee portrays the heroes (Mary Lasker, Sidney Farber) and the villains (‘big tobacco’ executives, radical mastectomy proponents) who have influenced the perception and treatment of the most dreaded disease.
  • The Mind’s Eye, the new collection of essays by neurologist Oliver Sacks is a departure from his usual “gallery of grotesques and..exotic impairments.” In this book, the author deals with more everyday frailties- the everyday slips that cause people to fail to recognize an acquiantance in an unfamiliar setting, or to make one read a sentence three times without understanding it. With his characteristic empathy and sensitivity, Sacks explores how ordinary people compensate for their failing faculties.
  • Mark Kurlansky’s Edible Stories applies the author’s eclectic knowledge to the subject of food.
  • Armistead Maupin returns to his best-loved characters in a long overdue collection from his ‘Tales of the City’ series. In the “tender and frolicsome” Mary Ann in Autumn the author revisits his most beloved characters after a twenty-year hiatus.