Chicago - Oct. 2, 2022
Music TV Politics Sports Books People Places & Things
Beachwood Books
Our monthly books archive.
Beachwood BookLinks
Book TV
NY Review of Books
London Review of Books
Arts & Letters Daily
American Reader Campaign
U of C Press Blog
Devil's Due
NYT Books
New Yorker Books
2nd Story
Chicago Zine Fest

Reviewing the Reviews

Oct. 13 - 14.

Publication: Sun-Times

Cover: "About a Boy," a review of Nick Hornby's new Slam.

Other Reviews & News of Note: Books editor Teresa Budasi comes up with another interesting column, this time about Rosie O'Donnell's Celebrity Detox. While chiding Rosie for her questionable childhood "memories," Budasi also writes that "Rosie says she never set out to steal the show when she agreed to a one-year stint [on The View]. But she did steal it, and thank goodness." Amen, sister!

Also: Sure, there's a review of Philip Roth's new book, but let's turn our attention to the new book about Van Halen instead. Not that the book is any good, according to music critic Jim DeRogatis. But because it's a far more interesting subject. "The argument could be made that a band as bombastic, egotistical and over-the-top as hair-metal champions Van Halen warrants a biographer who shares those same characteristics," DeRogatis writes. "But the fallacy of that line of thinking will soon become obvious to anyone who cracks the hardcovers and delves into the more than 300 pages of Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga by journeyman rock scribe Ian Christe, who lacks the other ingredient essential to the finest moments of a three-decade career that sold 75 million albums: a self-deprecating sens of humor."


Publication: Tribune

Cover: Abe Lincoln, rail-splitter. Borrrrring.

Also: Last week I tore into the review of Susan Faludi's new book by Sun-Times editorial page editor Cheryl Reed. This week the Tribune offers a review of Faludi's book by its regular contributor Art Winslow. Let's take a look-see.

"How does a culture react to trauma is the question, and Faludi's answer is that ours engaged in myth-making on a scale that matches the monumentalism of the [World Trade Center] towers themselves," Winslow writes. "She does not mention Joseph Campbell and his The Hero With a Thousand Faces or Robert Bly and his Iron John, or Carl Jung and his theories, but hers is a work of cultural interpretation on the order of theirs."

Quite a contrast from Reed's acerbic, defensive take.

"'The entire edifice of American security had failed to provide a shield,' Faludi observes in the introduction to The Terror Dream, and in 'all the desperate nightmares of men and women after 9/11, what accompanied the sundering of our myth of indomitability was not just rage but shock at that revelation, and, with the shock, fear, ignominy, shame.' The media spit out mantras like 'Everything has changed' and spoke of 'the death of irony,' an environment in which a 'cacophony of chanted verities induced a kind of cultural hypnosis.'"

Sounds like as sharp an analysis as I've seen about what 9/11 really did to us - and we did to ourselves. Sorry, Bruce, but it sure beats The Rising.

Faludi, Winslow notes, is a polemicist and "much of what she proposes may seem at first glance to be unlikely, or perhaps overstated. However, the journalistic documentation she provides to back up her assertions, particularly when she deals with the post-9/11 world, has such cumulative effect in its impressive precision and breadth that one is forced to accept many of her claims."

And what does Winslow say of Faludi's feminist take that Reed so objected to? "It is somewhat surprising to see this singled out as a phenomenon, but here Faludi offers extensive examples from press reporting and real-world statistics as proof."

Finally, Winslow glancingly notes that (like Backlash, which should be required reading in every newsroom), her book is essentially a piece of media criticism. "Much of Faludi's book engages in an effective debunking of reporting - and this by the country's biggest newspapers and magazines - that is anecdotally based but will not stand up when poked by a fact she has found."

So pay close attention to the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani and the lot of 'em, and the next time you hear about "security moms," for example, remind yourself that, like the "soccer mom," no such thing exists. But it fits the post-9/11 narrative that we found necessary to create in the absence of moral leadership offering us a narrative of truth.


Publication: New York Times

Cover: "Dangerous Obsession," Kathryn Harrison's review of Mario Vargos Llosa's The Bad Girl. I hate to say it, but former Tribune Company president Jack Fuller's recent review is superior.

Other Reviews & News of Note: I've read other reviews of the new biography of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz that go more for the gossipy dish than this one does, but nonetheless this is a fascinating portrait culled from a book that seems like fascinating reading.

"The strip was able to register grown-up emotions, like anxiety, depression, yearning, disillusionment, that had never been in cartoons before," reviewer Charles McGrath reminds us. And who knew that could sell?

"In the '80s he wasone of the 10 highest-paid entertainers in America, right up there with Oprah and Michael Jackson. In fact, if by artist we mean someone who paints or draws, it's no stretch at all to say that Charles Schulz as the most popular and successful American artist who ever lived," McGrath writes. "He was also . . . one of the loneliest and most unhappy."

"It took me a long time to become a human being," Schulz once said.

And: And now comes John Leonard in The New York Times to review Faludi! Leonard retells more than reveals, but at the end of his piece, he finally weighs in:

"Feminism, like a trampoline, has made possible this splendid provocation of a book, levitating to keep company with Hunter Thompson's fear and loathing, Leslie Fielder's love and death and Edmund Wilson's patriotic gore."



1. Alan Greenspan
2. Supreme Court
3. Jenny McCarthy and her autistic son.

O.J. is 5th; Video Vixen is 6th; Laura Ingraham is 7th; Nikki Sixx is 9th; Bill Clinton is 10th; Mother Teresa is 11th; Tony Dungy is 12th; Alan Alda is 14th.


Posted on October 16, 2007

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


Search The Beachwood Reporter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Follow BeachwoodReport on Twitter

Beachwood Radio!