Book Review Round-Up

We're back again with your weekly book review round-up:

Neverland: J. M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers and the Dark Side of "Peter Pan", Piers Dudgeon
The New York Times

It will not come as news that Neverland sees "a text-book inevitability about what would become of him" and that the young Barrie would realize "that he could be a controlling force, at least in his own world of illusion." It is bizarre to find such stolid oversimplifications side by side with breathless speculative leaps in Mr. Dudgeon's story.

Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits, Linda Gordon
The New York Times

Gordon's elegant biography is testament to Lange's gift for challenging her country to open its eyes.

Last Night in Twisted River, John Irving
The LA Times

"Last Night in Twisted River" mulls the crises that steep Irving's finest work, from "Garp" to "Owen Meany" to "Widow." Yet the scale here is more human, and his approach more humane, than anything that's come before.

Dracula: The Un-Dead, Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
The LA Times

Although billed as a sequel, it's not really. But what it is is a tale that pushes the story in unexpected directions while remaining true to the dark heart of the Transylvanian vampire-king.

Superfreakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The Onion A.V. Club

Levitt and Dubner have never met an unintended consequence they didn't want to see as a microcosm of the world, and their late-stage left turn toward creative earnestness feels like a tire-screeching pull around a corner they set out to avoid in the first place.

The Humbling, Philip Roth
The Guardian

[N]o amount of past achievement should blind one to a writer's present failings and it has to be said that Roth's new novel is, by his standards, dismayingly poor.

What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell
The Guardian

The essays in his new book, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, bear many of the classic Gladwellian hallmarks. They are simply and directly told, with the aid of a dizzying array of illustrations to support his argument. He moves effortlessly from individual stories to learned academic treatises to sociological observation and back to the individual. The writing is vibrant, colourful and packed with surprises.

Eating the Dinosaur, Chuck Klosterman
The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Klosterman's relentlessly thoughtful prose makes a case that our arts and entertainment are more suffused with meaning than ever before. Even as he's fretting over the direction of the culture, his writing stands as an eloquent defense of it.

Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters, Louis Begley
The Washington Times

Mr. Begley is a longtime practicing lawyer as well as an acclaimed novelist and he wears both hats to good effect in his forthright and impassioned book.