Book Review

Toward the end of his adoring tribute to Mary Astor, the villainess star of The Maltese Falcon, the famous cartoonist Edward Sorel explains his half-century infatuation with Mary as just another odd couple. “Why did Frederik Chopin fall for a woman who smoked cigars?” he asks. And “Why would Donald Trump, who prides himself on his good taste, fall in love with Donald Trump?” In other words, don’t ask.  

Ann Lopez / WSHU

The door to hell stands under a fluorescent light in an alley in Queens. The devil himself showed me.

This is how Ricardo Henriquez begins his first novel, The Catcher’s Trap.

Book Review: The Huntress

Jan 25, 2017

Despite its odd title, The Huntress is not about hunting, though Alicia Patterson was an excellent shot and a superb horsewoman. What it is, is a biography of the debutante who was the founder and editor of Newsday. The co-authors are Alicia Patterson’s niece, Alice Arlen, who died this past February, and her husband Michael Arlen, a staff writer for years at The New Yorker.

Alicia Patterson was quite a mover and shaker. The subtitle of The Huntress gives the chronology: “The Adventures, Escapades and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson: Aviatrix, Sportswoman, Journalist, Publisher.” She was the middle daughter of the renegade Chicago Tribune heir, Joe Patterson, who wanted only boys. Alicia all her life craved his attention and love. No doubt that’s why she married much older men, the first two, friends of her father. And it’s probably why she eventually went into the newspaper business. “Poppa” could be daring. He left Chicago to found The New York Daily News, but once Alicia tasted the life, she outdid him in forging an independent press. She couldn’t have children. Newsday became her baby, and what a baby it was.  

It’s blustery cold, gets dark early, and has been a challenging political season – a perfect storm that suggests it just might be the time to settle in with good escapist fiction. Falling Into the Mob more than qualifies. It’ll make you laugh and hold your attention as you try to figure out how its skillful author will resolve the absurdities and threats surrounding his unlikely hero.

Book Review: Avid Reader

Dec 30, 2016

In Avid Reader, an autobiographical account of his long life in editing and publishing, 85-year-old Robert Gottlieb says in a prefatory note that he “wanted to set bits of the record straight.” That usually means making sure you get there before others do who may be writing you up in their memoirs, or in a biography. It also usually means that at a certain age, confronting mortality, you want to take an overview of what you spent most of your life doing, examining how you got there and how you’d like to be remembered.

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