Reviews and Articles in General Publications
§ The Latest on Harry
And what of the controversy raised by some parents who worry the tale of a young wizard promotes witchcraft and the occult? [Rowling's] answer is direct and unforgiving. ''I absolutely did not start writing these books to encourage any child into witchcraft,'' she says with an uncomfortable chuckle. ''I'm laughing slightly because to me, the idea is absurd.''
(Fri 22 Oct 1999)
§ Slate October 20
(Wed 20 Oct 1999)
§ New York Times October 18
§ Washington Post Book World Oct. 17
Still, All Tomorrow's Parties is immensely engaging, alive on every page and as enjoyable a weekend entertainment as one could want. Who else but William Gibson would envisage a 21st century in which nature shows would be filmed in Detroit? Or imagine a flophouse that required reservations, booked in advance through an agency in the city?Also, John Crowley (''author of many novels and stories about fairies, magic and aliens'') reviews Wendy Kaminer's Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and the Perils of Piety (Pantheon). Kaminer ''takes on what she considers to be a general refusal of the use of reason in our society, whose manifestations range from the effusions of piety required of political candidates to the acceptance of alien abduction and the fatuities of pop spirituality.'' But Crowley wonders if the trend she perceives toward increased irrationality is real.
A case can be made, though, that it's just the reverse. The Christian right has actually been beaten back lately, the Kansas school board that forbade the teaching of evolution was a laughing-stock almost everywhere, and the recent frightful witch hunt involving imaginary sexual abuse of children and Satanic ritual has largely guttered out. Belief in supernatural or non-human agencies out to help or hurt us is probably at its lowest ebb in history. ...And Crowley faults Kaminer for not understanding those whose faith is based on personal experience of God's love.
Lethem's actual plot is hardly crackerjack detective material; the slow pacing and predictable turn of events -- standard-issue Mafiosi and an evil Japanese corporation play central roles -- reveal the genre model to be a convenient rack on which to hang his off-kilter humor and dead-on observations. ... In ''Motherless Brooklyn,'' solving the crime is beside the point. If you're a mystery maven, this might bother you. Instead, this is a novel about the mysteries of consciousness, the dualism Essrog alludes to when he talks about his ''Tourette's brain'' as if it were an entity apart from him.Also:
§ Los Angeles Times Times Book Review October 17
§ London Times October 17
(Mon 18 Oct 1999)
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Dune: House Atreides (Bantam Spectra) cracks the San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon hardcover fiction, and PW lists, all at position #10.
R.A. Salvatore's The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime (Del Rey) was #6 at PW last week (it's dropped off of PW's 10/19 list), #20 on Amazon's hardcover fiction list (#2 after Herbert/Anderson on Amazon's SF bestsellers list), and #36 on USA Today's list -- the latter two lists from last Wednesday, 10/13. This book is in the news because (with George Lucas's authorization) the author kills off one of the original Star Wars characters, Chewbacca.
Kurt Vonnegut's Bagombo Snuff Box has dropped to #6 at LAT, and remains #24 at NYT.
Harry Potter and Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis remain solidly entrenched in the top spots of most lists, though Rowling's books are still edged out by diet books on Amazon's Hot 100 list. Washington Post apparently does not restrict Rowling's books from its hardcover fiction list; the third Harry Potter book is #10 this week. (Apparently government folk don't buy them to the extent people in other cities do; or perhaps there are fewer children in the capital city.) Or maybe WP just changed its policy, as LAT seems to have done -- the three Harry Potter books appear in positions 1, 2 and 4 this week after not having been listed on the hardcover fiction bestseller list at all in previous weeks.
Surprise recent entry onto bestseller lists: a new Modern Library translation by Richard Howard of Henri Stendhal's 1838 novel The Charterhouse of Parma. It's #23 on Amazon's fiction hardcover list -- and #8 on this week's LAT list.
Links to the Bestseller lists:
(Mon 18 Oct 1999)
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