Also of interest ... in books inspired by books
<em>Anne Frank</em><strong> </strong>by Francine Prose; <em>The Man Who Loved Books Too Much </em><br /> by Allison Hoover Bartlett; <em>Good for the Jews </em>by Debra Spark; <em>Why Th
Anne Frank by Francine Prose (Harper, $25)This “lively” study of Anne Frank’s artistry “will dispel many misimpressions” about the teenage diarist, said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. To novelist and critic Francine Prose, the high quality of the diary that became a pillar of Holocaust literature was not a fluke but the product of “a precociously self-aware writer.” Anne Frank was 14 when she began reworking her jottings for posterity. Tracking the diary’s progress from that moment, Prose delivers “a Grade A example” of how an impassioned teacher can make any subject new.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett (Riverhead, $25)This true story about a San Francisco book thief strains to be more than it is, said Vadim Rizov in The Onion. The cons its protagonist performs are “riveting,” and his taste for rare books offers a window onto a fascinating subculture of collectors. But this is “the kind of nonfiction book where a perfectly absorbing narrative” is interrupted by clichéd digressions on the ethics of journalism. It gets a bit precious.
Good for the Jews by Debra Spark (Univ. of Michigan, $24)University presses aren’t known for producing “smart, sprightly, sex-drenched, and neatly plotted” novels that capture “the way we all live now,” said Alan Cheuse in ChicagoTribune.com. But when a young Jewish woman in Madison, Wis., finds herself sleeping with her new boss’ husband—who is in turn feuding with the protagonist’s cousin—what follows is savvy entertainment. Loosely based on the Bible’s book of Esther, Good for the Jews transfers Tom Perrotta’s satiric tone from the East Coast to the Midwest.
Why This World by Benjamin Moser (Oxford, $30)It was said of Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector that she “looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf,” said Ed Caesar in the London Sunday Times. Determined to introduce “Hurricane Clarice” to more English-speaking readers, critic Benjamin Moser follows Lispector from her infancy in Ukraine to literary stardom in her adopted homeland. His biography “does full justice to the complexity” of this enigmatic artist.