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30 september 2016

Spillover is the kind of nonfiction book I frequently disdain here: I used to call them "voice-driven," which it is, but a better term is "interview-driven." You know the type, the author as character hears about something interesting in Borneo and next day, she's rattling down a road in Borneo on a bus. But I forgive Spillover its sometimes hilarious technique (seriously, where's the money to go on these impulsive jaunts come from?) because David Quammen has such an engaging voice. And no matter where he goes and who he interviews, his interests lie in exposition for the reader's benefit, not in local color or character sketching.     read more

29 september 2016

Cait Murphy's Crazy '08 was one of the best-reviewed baseball books of 2007, and I'm just getting to read it nine years later … time flies even when you think you read a lot of baseball books. I can say that it's held up splendidly during that near-decade. It's a marvelously-researched, keenly and intricately written history of some of the most implausible stuff ever to occur on ballfields and off.     read more

27 september 2016

Morte in mare aperto is a late collection of stories by Andrea Camilleri, supposedly about the "young" Salvo Montalbano, though it's hard to place them in the temporal canon of his adventures. They're not perhaps among his classic stories, but as one often says of great series, they offer a chance "to spend more time with the characters."     read more

25 september 2016

Great barbecue is an ephemeral experience. Every barbecue experience is unique, and attempts to standardize barbecue into chain-restaurant form are notoriously dissatisfying. The best barbecue I ever ate was in a hole in the wall somewhere off the New York State Thruway between Albany and Westchester; I couldn't tell you where for the life of me. Most fond barbecue memories are like that: some little shack that no longer exists; alternatively, one particular pit dug for one particular occasion, its effects of smoke and succulence forever unrepeatable. But maybe I was just real hungry that day.     read more