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Preview: Inquirer Book Critic - Carlin Romano

Inquirer Book Critic - Carlin Romano

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Published: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 14:45:41 GMT


You'll never look at a travel book the same again
Thomas Kohnstamm is nobody's model travel journalist, except maybe Hunter Thompson's (if the latter is watching from beyond the grave - or the cannon Johnny Depp used to distribute his gonzo ashes).

Why publishing book reviews makes sense
So few book reviews, so many books. No, it hasn't started appearing on T-shirts yet, but wait. For the last half year, thanks in part to vigorous noisemaking by the National Book Critics Circle and its energetic president, Swarthmore grad John Freeman, the publishing world has done almost as much talking about the "book review crisis" as it has about the rectangular objects it sells.

Classic 'Harry'
'Do you think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us?" asks sage headmaster Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, responding to Harry's criticism of himself as "stupid" for believing he'd seen his deceased father the night before.

From 'English Patient'
NEW YORK - In the Hell's Kitchen hideaway the XChange, a hip party venue with a breathtaking view of the Hudson River, literary lion Michael Ondaatje flits among the rest of the pride gathered by his publisher for a Friday-night dinner at BookExpo America - among them Nathan Englander, Mary Gordon, Edwidge Danticat, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Slim, portable gift book for atheists
To stir secular intellectuals, American philosopher Daniel C. Dennett last year published Breaking the Spell. British scientist Richard Dawkins soon followed with The God Delusion.

The playful literary legend
John Updike veers into the Ritz-Carlton's plush lobby and spots his interviewer, poring over papers. "Doing your homework?" he asks brightly, the big smile making his famed beetley eyebrows bounce up and down.

BookExpo footnotes from N.Y. gathering
NEW YORK - Lawyers do it in their briefs. Book people do it on their T-shirts. Best one spotted at this year's BEA, the annual book industry rite of spring?

Ralph Ellison, rendered visible
Was he independent and indefatigable in pursuing a second masterpiece, or indolent and inept? Intransigent and inhumane toward others, or merely indecisive and inconsistent?

Chinese laureate a literary Olympian
For those of us who find sports boring but literature exciting, an upcoming Olympics brings expectations of a special sort. Olympic cities increasingly stage a "Cultural Olympics" before their Summer Games. Barcelona celebrated its leading artists in fields from architecture to poetry to sculpture. Atlanta invited the world's living Nobel Prize laureates in literature, gathering a dazzling cast that included Joseph Brodsky, Kenzaburo Oe, Octavio Paz, Wole Soyinka and Derek Walcott.

The readiness to deconstruct is all
To be or not to be a philosopher did not concern Shakespeare, so far as we know. And we know very little.