A handy guide to the subtexts of this weekend's New York Times Book Review.
THE STERNS RETURN
Why were traveling foodies Jane and Michael Stern, authors of Roadfood and Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A., fingered to review Ron Jeremy's autobiography? Because they're the resident "low-brow" experts! The Sterns have previously written for the NYTBR about a dizzying range of topics, including obituary enthusiast Marilyn Johnson, comedian Robert Klein, and a band called The Beatles. If the Times is willing to to touch pop culture, it'll usually only do so with the Sterns, who smart up analysis of things they think you'd be ashamed to hold on the subway. Note: "Even if you start reading with a sneer on your face...." Read: "Yes, we expect you to look down on him." Also, Ron Jeremy has a fairly big unit.
GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY MAN
National Review editor Rich Lowry reviews historian John Patrick Diggins' new biography of Ronald Reagan, which makes a bid to "rescue Reagan from many of today's so-called Reaganites." To that end, Diggins apparently argues that Reagan did not believe in evil and that he thought saving the world was more urgent than defeating Communism. Lowry is hoppin' mad because this book makes Reagan sound like a total sissy.
SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN
Admittedly, Tavis Smiley is a talk show host, but we still can't help but think of that famous a-word when Lawrence Downes, in a review of his new book, effusively calls the black fella a "world-class talker." He do talk good!
Metaphors face off in two recent reviews of Mayra Montero's Dancing to 'Almendra.'
From the NYTBR, Feb. 18, by Jim Lewis: "Her writing is swift and agile; it dances like a tough kid in a good suit—well pressed but never boring, and never calling attention to the strength that lies behind it."
From the San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 29, by Anne Julia Wyman: "Such legwork crammed into a swift, relatively short book, unfortunately, proves the writing's greatest difficulty. The novel is crowded...one feels like one is hanging on for dear life as Joaquin and his story rocket to a conclusion, an up-tempo rendition that wears out your shoes and leaves you with no memory of your dance partner's face."
Never boring? Crowded? You decide! Or totally don't!