In the latest edition of the Times book review, the critic's gang tackles both Seth Mnookin and Toby Young's latest titles, coming up with the same verdict for two very different books: vanilla. Nothing wrong with them, but they're certainly not awesome, either. Pity. Add to the mix some requisite Islam talk and a special moment in which Charles McGrath uses the word "penis," and you've got this week's review. Intern Alexis' guide to sounding like you've touched book, after the jump.

Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top
By Seth Mnookin
Reviewed by Charles McGrath

Former New York Times Book Review editor Charles McGrath takes on former New York Times Jayson Blair scandal writer-about-er Seth Mnookin's new Red Sox tome, "Feeding the Monster." McGrath thinks that it's excellently reported but not so stylishly written and is concerned that there's not enough Red Sox porn "to satisfy the true addict:"

What we mostly learn is that by the end everyone in the locker room was glad to see Nomar go, that Millar turned into a jerk and that Manny Ramirez's idea of a good joke is to stick his cellphone down his pants and take a picture. Millar, for one, was not impressed, remarking, 'Forty home runs and 140 R.B.I.'s, and with this penis!'

McGrath just said penis! Anyway, speaking of porn, here's a little New York Times porn taken from a parenthetical in the review:

(Journalistic ethics compel me to point out that The New York Times Company also owns a piece of the Red Sox, though the opportunities for conflict of interest have in fact been many fewer than Sox fans on the staff could have wished: no tickets, no hats ā€” nothing.)

Juicy. Oh man oh man, are you as turned on as we are? No? Hey. We never promised you the high-class shit. Think of the above as a commercial for Asian escorts and us as Robin Byrd. Mmmm actually maybe
don't.


The Sound of No Hands Clapping
By Toby Young
Reviewed by Hugo Lindgren

Mr. Lindgren found himself in a bit of a moral dilemma when it came time to review Toby Young's second memoir, "The Sound of No Hands Clapping." He wondered if he should do what everyone else has done and "whip him like a rented mule" or "champion Young" and "anoint him the courageous voice of our generation." Perhaps if he did so, Lindgren muses,

I could score some excellent perks. For example, out of gratitude, Young might try to befriend me and ask me to help write his next Hollywood script (I've got great ideas!), or cast me in one of his plays, or, at the very least, take me to dinner on his restaurant-critic expense account next time I'm in London. Tempting.

In the end, however, Lindgren decides to tell the truth: There are some absorbing parts of the book, but "most of it is merely dull." He concludes the review, wondering: "Maybe I didn't like this book because, years ago at a party, Young spilled a drink on me and hit on the girl I was with. In which case, I'd have just one word for him: Gotcha." Someone's making the professional personal! Hey, does this mean that you will whip Young like a rented mule? And if so, can both of you be naked?


The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future
By Vali Nasr
Reviewed by Irshad Manji

Irhsad Manji may have written an interesting and well-informed review of Vali Nasr's overview of the current Muslim conflicts, but her lede is as annoying as can be. She writes:

In February, a group of Sunni Muslims bombed the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites. Meanwhile, Muslims continued rioting over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Prompted by the week's violence, HBO's Bill Maher pulled a Rodney King and asked, 'Can't we all just get Allah?'

As a guest on his show that night, I howled offstage. But the joke fell flatter than my hair under a head scarf. Most of Maher's studio audience didn't get it.

Casually dropping that you were a guest on the Bill Maher show does not impress us. Who hasn't been a guest on the Bill Maher show? Our dog and gerbil have both been on it. Twice. Each.