Opinions

Throw This Book Away

Rating:  Time to toss your copy of Zeitoun in your curbside recycling bin; it can land on top of Three Cups of Tea in the corner of the bin reserved for books that don’t even deserve donation to a library because they turned out to be dishonest accounts...

Three Cups of Deceit

Rating:  Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way, by Jon Krakauer. Anchor (2011) 96 pages. Vindication!  I read Three Cups of Tea a couple of years ago, well before the scandal broke (via the April 17 episode of 60 Minutes),...

Iceland

Did we really need a new book in which the author (according to the most recent issue of Publishers Weekly) “peppers the narrative with neologisms supposedly coined by famous gossip columnists, and annoyingly styles the text so that nearly every name, brand name, and...

Another Cover Art Disappointment

Who doesn’t love a vintage photograph from the author’s childhood on the cover of her memoir? When the image is just right, these covers are among the best. But if a photo that speaks directly to the story does not exist, why force an inappropriate one upon the book?...

Little House Series

HarperCollins has made a horrendous, unfathomable decision that will surely be studied in future college marketing courses in the same chapter as the “New Coke” blunder of 1985. In a woefully misguided attempt to keep the Little House series “relevant and vibrant” to...

Punctuation Matters

This month I read two memoirs that I would be giving glowing reviews to, if only they had employed quotation marks.  Is anyone else fed up with the idea that quotation marks in dialogue are unnecessary? Basic rules of grammar and punctuation exist for a reason (to...

A Million Little Lies

(This review first appeared in January 2006) Rating:  A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey.  Random House (2004), 448 pages. A memoir is one person’s memories of his life and can’t be expected to represent an exact rendition of absolute fact,...

Detectives and CIA Operatives Must Go

(This opinion first appeared in February 2003) The following words and phrases have no business in a decent book: FBI CIA Washington insider sophisticated weaponry special agent top-secret cigar-smoking helicopters submarines tanks ill-gotten business vigilante hit...