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Scoop Review Of Books Weekly Newsletter 18 Apr 08

Scoop Review of Books weekly newsletter 18 April 08

New this week on the Scoop Review of Books...


The Sixth Man by James McNeish is reviewed by Mark Derby

Paddy Costello's Russian-Jewish wife Bella, we are told, 'had in her beauty and sadness the sadness of small Jewish towns hemmed in by curses'. The precision, power and originality of this description, from James McNeish's recent biography of Costello, are representative of the book.

Meticulous in its research, it is also replete with fine and surprising sentences, the product of its author's long training in fiction along with many other forms of prose. More...

The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker reviewed by Bernard Steeds

What does language tell us about ourselves? When we swear, or reach for a jaded metaphor ('time is money'), make a simple request ('Would you mind passing the salt?'), or simply choose a transitive verb over an intransitive one, are we revealing more of ourselves than we realise? More...

The Quiet Girl by Peter Høeg reviewed by Alison McCulloch

Kasper Krone has the hearing of a terrier and the indestructibility of a super-hero. He's annoying in a mystery-wrapped-in-a-riddle-tied-in-an-enigma kind of way, and can be awfully pompous. Kasper is the latest creation of Peter Hoeg, the Danish author of "Smilla's Sense of Snow", a best seller in 1993 and a movie in 1997. More...


The timing of poet Hone Tuwhare's death - with the daily avalanche of Sir Ed obituaries and tributes at their height - meant the papers here paid less attention to his passing than he deserved. Britain's Guardian has helped set the record straight with this lovely tribute by fellow poet Alastair Te Ariki Campbell.

For all those who are kicking themselves for not getting along to Wellington's Writers and Readers week don't despair. ABC's excellent, Book Show, has put some of the sessions on-line and Radio NZ is planning to broadcast others.

ABC has novelist David Mitchell, poet Paul Muldoon and Sean Plunket's chat with Doonsbury creator interview Gary Trudeau on-line. And there's an Ian McEwan performance at Sydney's Opera House on-line as well.

Timesonline has a great piece on Melvyn Bragg's soon to be released Remember Me.... A fictionalised account of the suicide of his first wife.

The Economist has a review of a fascinating, if harrowing, sounding Israeli book that has only just been translated into English more than half a century after it was published. Kherbet Khizeh details an act of ethnic cleansing during the 1948 war. Its author S Yizhar was an intelligence officer during in the newborn state's army.

Los Angeles - City of bicycles? Well, no - but it could've been as this extract from Robert Gottlieb's Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City (MIT Press) shows.

As a kid I remember watching an animated version of the story of John Henry set to some old blues singer's rendition of the classic ballad of the man who raced against a steam drill and died with a hammer in his hand. Aint Nothing But a Man, the story of an author's quest to find out whether the ballad is fact or fiction, is reviewed in the New York Times.

And another New York Times review has an interesting account of one author's pick of the ten most beautiful scientific experiments.

And finally for all those feeling utterly confused by what's going on in Iraq this extract from the Independent's Patrick Cockburn's latest book Muqtada may not leave you feeling optimistic about Iraq's future but will leave you better informed.

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Jeremy Rose is the editor of the Scoop Review of Books and a Wellington journalist.

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