Blood in the Water (2016), by Heather Ann Thompson

A monumental work of reporting, this book is an exhaustive (and exhausting) account of the four-day Attica Prison rebellion that took nearly four decades to resolve*. Indeed, by the time the uprising ends and the prison has been violently retaken, there is still well more than half the book left, given to a mind-numbing parade of lawsuits and legal machinations. That Thompson is able to make this half as dramatic as the first is remarkable.

*If in fact it ever has been resolved. Despite some modest payouts to victims, the state has never admitted any wrongdoing in its calamitous decision to retake the prison with such fatal, arbitrary force, nor was any law enforcement official involved in the retaking ever indicted.

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Go Set a Watchman (2015), by Harper Lee

This is a review of Harper Lee’s highly-ancticipated second novel/prequel/abandoned debut Go Set a Watchman. For some thoughts on its more famous predecessor, To Kill a Mockingbird, click here.

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Let’s put aside the unsavory circumstances surrounding this book’s publication, which become more contemptible the more you read about them. Let’s also put aside the sturm und drang about this alternate side of Atticus Finch and what it means for us and our collective image of him as a faultless paragon of virtue.

Let’s focus instead on what we have in front of us, which is an artistic tragedy, though perhaps not for the reasons you might think.

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012), by Maria Semple

This book, published this month, obviously is not part of the Time 100 project. But if a visitor comes across this blog looking for stuff about that list, maybe they’ll read this and seek out Maria Semple’s new novel.

In lieu of cranking out several hundred ponderous words on why Maria Semple’s wonderful novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette is so good, why don’t I just offer up some blurbs Little, Brown can slap onto the paperback edition:

“I’d call Where’d You Go, Bernadette my big guilty pleasure of 2012, but the truth is I don’t feel the least bit guilty about the amount of pleasure I took reading it. Neither will you.”
–Michael P., National Book Award-aspiring author of many future Important Works

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In the meantime…

After the first couple months of the Time 100 project, where I started and stopped a few times, I now seem to be settling into a good groove, finishing another book off the list every three weeks or so. Since it now looks as if I’ve committed to this project for the long haul, I’ve also spruced up the site a bit.

But when I’m not reading books for this project (or just reading books for fun), I occasionally submit official reviews, all professional-like, to other publications. I figure I may as well use this blog to post about them, too. So you’ll probably be seeing thoughts on other books not in the Time list on this site.

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