This book – by Nathacha Appanah, translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan – is reviewed by me in today’s Star Tribune, and comes to us from Graywolf Press.

Shell Games.

I mentioned it elsewhere, but not here: my review of Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature’s Bounty appeared recently at the Star Tribune, in Minneapolis.

Last minute wrap-up.

  • I mentioned this in a couple of other places, but please have a look at my two newest book reviews, both at the Star Tribune newspaper in lovely Minnesota. Here and here.
  • East Coast, looking for a last minute holiday recommendation for book gifting? Have a listen to Condalmo friend Michelle – she’ll be talking up some good books on the radio today. Here’s your link.
  • There should be a new review up at Identity Theory this week.
  • Have a look at this Christmas story.
  • Finally, here’s hoping you are all having a good holiday.

Obligations of book reviewers.

Mark Athitakis sums it up:

Earlier this week the FTC released new guidelines on how bloggers must disclose their relationships with commercial entities. I haven’t spent much time thinking about this—unlike smart people who have—mainly because I suspect any battle between the gummint and bloggers will attack women and children first. Relatively speaking, me and my modest stack of advance reader’s copies aren’t worth anybody’s attention and trouble. I’ve always considered ARCs as a tool to do my job, not some great prize; I receive them, but, like editors at newspaper book reviews, I feel no particular obligation to review them, acknowledge their existence, or announce their provenance if I do get around to mentioning them.

I received a review copy – the finished book, not an ARC – the other day that the publisher paid over $20 to have shipped to me. I feel no obligation whatsoever to name it, or to attempt to review it (as it’s likely way over my head, and I would not do the book the justice it may well deserve) despite the outlandish expense incurred to send it to me. It’s one of many, and there are only so many hours in the day. It will likely get passed on to a reviewer at Identity Theory.

You know Mark is on the straight and narrow, because if he was making any profit whatsoever from ARCs, he wouldn’t be drinking Folgers. No way

Review: “Death with Interruptions”.

My review of Death with Interruptions appears in today’s PopMatters. Excerpt:

…Saramago skewers the flailing reactions of each of these institutions mercilessly and slyly, as an underground “maphia” emerges to see to the transport of the elderly and infirm across the border, at which point they promptly expire, and before long the maphia and government find themselves working together.  The church veers back and forth between explanations for the lack of death.  The philosophers spin their wheels in the mud.  When Saramago has this country’s citizens wondering how, at a time with death has completely ceased, “what the hell is going on with the government, who have so far given not the slightest sign of life”—it seems like an instantly universal truism about government’s common problems, regardless of the problem at hand…