This week on BookPage.com, Roger Bishop praises Robert Caro's The Passage of Power (which I squealed about in November) by writing, "Political biography doesn’t get any better than what Caro does." This installment of Caro's incredible Lydon Johnson biography covers the years 1958 to 1964 and is surely a must-read for people who are interested in American history, politics or how a person longs for and acquires power. As a Bill Clinton devotee since birth (what can I say? I'm from Arkansas!) and someone who has devoted roughly 25 hours of her life (so far) listening to his autobiography on audio, I thought I was going to die and go to heaven when I learned that Clinton was reviewing Caro's book in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review. The glowing review is online now.
John Irving's In One Person is our Top Pick in Fiction this month; reviewer Matthew Jackson calls it "among the most challenging, dense novels Irving has ever produced," providing readers who are willing to take the journey with "immense rewards." If you've ever wondered about the day-to-day life of the best-selling novelist, read the profile "John Irving: the hitman" in The Telegraph, in which journalist Ariel Leve writes an intimate portrait of the author.
Speaking of mega-successful novelists, Stephen King (whose latest Dark Tower novel went on sale last week) has written a passionate, explicit and—yes—amusing scolding of the superrich in America. An example: According to King, those guys "float serenely over the lives of the struggling middle class like blimps made of thousand-dollar bills."
The Wall Street Journal seems to be the go-to publication for hot-button commentary, whether Amy Chua is telling us why Tiger Moms are superior or Meghan Cox Gurden is taking on the "violence and depravity" in contemporary YA literature. The latest book piece that caught my eye was Book Lover columnist Cynthia Crossen's column about "heavy heroes."
A reader asked: "Considering that more than a third of Americans are considered to be obese, why are there so few modern novels with overweight heroes or heroines?" Crossen gives a brief history of overweight characters in literature, including now-classic books with "heavy heroines" like Good in Bed and She's Come Undone. She also introduces a term that was new to me: "chunk lit."
In the past our readers have asked for a "best" list highlighting books with an overweight main character, which is maybe something we should revisit. For the time being, I recommend Heft by Liz Moore.
Happy weekend, readers! Have any links to share? What are you reading this weekend?