Joan Baum

Book Review: Tales Of Accidental Genius

Jan 15, 2016

It’s likely the award-winning literary fiction writer Simon Van Booy knows that the words “genius” and “genial” are related. They derive from the same Latin root that means beget or generate, and by the 18th century were used to denote sympathy and friendliness as well as intellectual or creative superiority. All these qualities figure — “ingeniously,” you might say — in Van Booy’s latest short story collection called Tales of Accidental Genius.

Book Review: Weapons Of Mass Destruction

Dec 2, 2015

A friend was looking at the title of a book I was reading - Weapons of Mass Destruction: “Is that about what I think it is?” Well, “yes,” I said, and “no.” The book is about American troops in Iraq in 2004. But no, because the book is not an analysis or partisan tract, but a novel. And a novel with two unusual features: It’s a story about a young marine named Billy Sinclair- a well-respected sharpshooter in his unit who’s haunted by the recent suicide back home in Montana of his lifelong friend and hunting buddy, Pete, a Native American Sioux.

Book Review: Girl In The Moonlight

Sep 8, 2015

Charles Dubow’s new novel, Girl in the Moonlight, like his debut novel, Indiscretion, is admittedly a tribute to The Great Gatsby. And, like Dubow’s earlier book, a compelling story about obsession and love.

For Gatsby, who comes from the demimonde, Daisy Buchanan is the incarnation of the golden girl, her voice “full of money.” For Dubow’s upper-class narrator Wylie Rose, however, the siren-goddess who claims his heart, mind, body, and soul attracts him for reasons other than money, which she has plenty of.

Book Review: Cop Job

Aug 31, 2015

Cop Job is the latest installment of the Sam Aquillo Hamptons Mysteries.  The series is the creation of author Chris Knopf, who lives and works in Connecticut and Long Island.

In Cop Job, Sam Aquillo scours the East End of Long Island for clues to solve the brutal murder of a good friend. Book critic Joan Baum has this review:

Book Review: The Primates of Park Avenue

Aug 25, 2015

Billed as an anthropological “memoir” of when she recently lived among The Haves, The Have Mores and The Have Mosts on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin, has generated a huge response in print and online, a lot of it negative. Her creds list a Ph.D. from Yale, but her degree is in comparative literature and cultural studies.