introducing readers to writers since 1995

December 05, 2004

Never Let Anyone Outside the Family Know What You're Thinking

by Ron Hogan

It's a big ol' NYTBR this week, and though the year-end roundups and the massive Daniel Mendolsohn essay on Truman Capote probably have the strongest gravitational pull this week, I was pleased to see Neil Gaiman writing about Grimm's fairy tales and Sarah Vowell on The Godfather Returns, which she liked enough to actually make me interested enough to maybe try and scrounge a copy one of these days.

In his column on the bestseller lists, Dwight Garner notes observes that Mark Winegardner's authorized sequel "has received generally positive reviews." Not, however, in other parts of the Times, where Michiko Kakutani called it "a meal made from leftovers" while allowing that "as these sorts of follows-up go, it's a solid enough performance: dutiful, suspenseful, and only occasionally annoying." But Garner's right, the book has gotten some better reviews elsewhere; the early word from PW was good, and Jeff Guinn of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram liked it so much he also interviewed Winegardner. In Las Vegas, though, Jon Ziebell is less impressed--but it's actually rather surprising, at least to me, that he has nothing to say about whether or not the book depicts Vegas--where, apparently, the bulk of the story takes place--accurately. In fact, from Ziebell's review, you wouldn't even know the Corleones had anything to do with Vegas. Very strange.


Sarah Vowell almost made me want to read The Godfather Returns.

Did you read Laura Miller's column in this week's NYTBR on the difficulty of recommending books? I think one reason I'm enjoying your "holiday gift suggestions" sections is because Ms. Miller is correct: recommending a book is a dangerous business, so no one ever does it. I myself never recommend books I actually care about; rather, I recommend books I enjoyed (and that I think someone else might enjoy) instead of books that I'll remember forever.

I do, however, try to read the books people recommend to me, even if I know I'm going to hate them. If nothing else, it gives me a chance to learn a little more about the person who liked the book. Even if I disklike a book, I generally enjoy discussing it with someone who loved it, and sometimes their enthusiasm will make me think twice about how I've judged the text.

Posted by: Susan at December 7, 2004 03:45 PM
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