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- March 21, 2011
- Vol. 75
- No. 11
Picks and Pans: Books
by Donovan Hohn |
REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT
When journalist Hohn read about a shipment of 28,800 plastic ducks, frogs, beavers and turtles that had fallen off a storm-tossed ship departing Hong Kong in 1992, he was enchanted. Proclaiming it duck-hunting season, he set off on the adventure recorded here, sailing with driftology experts trying to chart the course of where things like the "Floatees" go in quixotic ocean currents, interviewing environmentalists and meeting fellow enthusiasts like Eric Carle, who wrote a children's book about the missing ducks. Hohn's account is entertaining but also philosophic. He learns that plastics of all kinds are polluting our seas, killing birds and fish, possibly even getting into our food chain. Pollution is a high price to pay for the whimsy of toys-far higher than the $100-a-head reward initially offered by Floatees' manufacturers. While Hohn never does find a single duckie himself (a thousand or so have been recovered to date), it hardly matters. His quest is puckish, profound and as irresistible as the yellow bath toy itself.
The Trinity Six
by Charles Cumming |
REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO
Collaborating on a book about a rumored sixth member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring-the most damaging moles in British history-professor Sam Gaddis hopes for a bestseller that will erase his considerable debts. But when his sources start dying, Gaddis gets caught in an elaborate cat-and-mouse with MI6 and KGB agents bent on protecting decades-old secrets. With its mix of old-school espionage and present-day duplicities, Trinity Six is a smashing Cold War thriller for the 21st century.
by Kay S. Hymowitz |
REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN
This ruefully amusing book argues that women's decreasing reliance on men has had a sad consequence: Men are actually less reliable. It's not all our fault. In a knowledge economy, men must stay in school longer, then are faced with a dizzying array of choices. (And school plus too much choice does not play to male strengths.) The rise of the man-child as a cultural hero-thank you, Judd Apatow-hasn't helped either. But if we want men to man up, perhaps we need to woman up a bit and make sure guys know we value their abilities-even when we don't rely on them for a paycheck.
Bringing Adam Home
by Les Standiford with Joe Matthews
Standiford's page-turner lays out why the brutal '81 abduction and murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, above, took 27 years to solve. Hollywood, Fla., police ignored leads, targeted the wrong man and couldn't get evidence to take confessed killer Ottis Toole to court. The heroes are those who never gave up: Adam's mom, Reve, and dad, John, who hosts America's Most Wanted, and Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews, who searched even after Toole's death and finally found proof of his guilt. Hopeful and heartbreaking, Bringing Adam Home is tough to forget.
Witches on the Road Tonight
by Sheri Holman |
REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN
Holman (The Dress Lodger) is a master of the miniature. She uses tiny, achingly accurate details to bring each moment to life on the page; her sentences sing. Here she traces an Appalachian family through generations, beginning with 8-year-old Eddie in a cabin in 1940 and ending with Eddie's TV-anchorwoman daughter in 2011 New York. This richly layered novel is Holman's most ambitious and successful yet.
HOW TO NEVER LOOK FAT AGAIN
by Charla Krupp
Smart tips on dressing to minimize muffin top, Buddha belly, arm flap and whatever else ails you.
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS
by Rebecca Skloot
Through the story of one woman's cancer cells, Skloot illuminates the history of race and medicine.
MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND
by Helen Simonson
Proper British widower falls for Pakistani shopkeeper. Utterly charming.
For his new book, reporter Neil Strauss gathered the best bits from a lifetime of celebrity interviews. Some highlights:
on being a geek:
"The first club I ever went to ... I was like, 'Okay, I don't fit in. I don't know what to do with myself. I'm not dressed appropriately. There's nothing cool about me. I'm going to go read a book.'"
"When you've got a dad and a mom and a little brother who are constantly poking fun at your imperfections ... it's impossible to get a big head."
"It was very, very difficult for me to ever get to a place where I said I needed some help ... but all I can say is, I've lived a much fuller life."
As the youngest of the baby boomers close in on 50, books about getting older abound. Three new entries worth a look:
By Sarah Brokaw
Tom Brokaw's therapist daughter looks at qualities the happily middle-aged share and offers tips on acquiring them.
NEVER SAY DIE
By Susan Jacoby
In a bracing critique, Jacoby urges abandoning our current fantasy that old age can be "cured."
THE LONGEVITY PROJECT
By Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin
An 80-year study reveals what really leads to long life.
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