The Street Lawyer

JOHN GRISHAM’S ninth novel, The Street Lawyer, follows the basic formula of his other bestsellers, taking a jaded lawyer disillusioned with the American system of justice and–through a series of dire and not always believable events–leading him back to his original idealism through the true promise of those same institutions.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Six Figures

FRED G. LEEBRON’S provocative second novel takes on the frustrations of the young American middle class, born to privilege and fearful they may fail in their expected pursuit of success.  By painstakingly dissecting the thwarted aspirations of its main character, Warner Lutz, it serves as a cautionary tale for the nasdaq generation.

Continue reading

Single & Single

SINCE THE mid-’60s, David Cornwell, writing under the name John Le Carré, has given us literate spy thrillers tied in some way to the political zeitgeist of Cold War Britain and by extension Western Europe. Whether he is working with Palestinians or Northern Irish nationalists or Russian mobsters, he finds a way to deliver their worlds and their choices and also to keep us entertained.  Based on his earlier, inestimable success, the advertising copy for his newest novel, Single & Single, declares that he “both epitomizes and transcends the novel of espionage”–not a small claim.

Continue reading

Cheap Thrills

WRITING ABOUT MUSIC is like dancing about architecture, Lori Anderson said, at once over- and understating the case.  The deep and physical reaction we have to music can’t be stimulated or duplicated by any other medium.  The ecstatic sympathy brought on by, say, one of John Coltrane’s ascensions or the roar of Nirvana live can’t be codified or explained away, though thousands of critics and academics will try.

Continue reading

The Bland Illusion

THERE IS SOMETHING of J.G. Ballard’s studied love of desolation in Red Land Blue Land, an appreciation for zones created by human thought yet inhospitable to human existence, a place where the twin illusions of technological progress and liberal sentimentality break down, stripping mankind of its conceits and leaving in their place nothing but ruin and savagery.  On first viewing Claudio Hils’s photographs of simulated battlefields, the reader pauses at the vacant bombing ranges and the fake villages populated by manikins, thinking: how chilling, how strange.  Whose bizarre idea was this?

Continue reading