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American Sniper

I found myself marveling about how I could be reading about training and missions and battle zones and kill shots and bar fights and be totally and completely bored.

The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words

“The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words” wallops the reader with a blizzard of quotes from his novels, stories, letters and essays. The snippets number in the hundreds (at least), they tend to be very short, and they stack up so quickly that it’s hard to appreciate the muscular fluidity of Chandler’s prose.

Letter to Jimmy
Kirkus Reviews : Letter to Jimmy (December 16, 2014)

The conceit of the letter and the oddly intimate tone toward “Jimmy” make this a curious work, but it’s often insightful and illuminating.

The Great Reformer

Mr. Ivereigh’s book is particularly good on Pope Francis’s Jesuit background and the effects of his provincialate on the Argentine Province.

Teresa, My Love: An Imagined Life of the Saint of Avila

Ms. Kristeva’s excess doesn’t lead to illuminating insight.

The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words

The book is at its best when Chandler speaks through his letters, where the man that emerges is by turns supremely confident...and dismissive of his talents... a compelling, if incomplete, portrait of a writer of lasting influence.

Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin

Here’s a message to Aretha: This book doesn’t make us admire you any less, it helps us understand you more. Just let your story be what it is. Let it be.

Victoria: A Life

To survey the political history of the world’s most powerful empire while also doing justice to the inner life of a short, stout mother and grandmother is a tall order. That Wilson succeeds testifies to an ability he shares with Victorian writers like Dickens and George Eliot: to make readers sympathize with the heroine despite, or even because of, her very human foibles.

American Titan

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.

Albertine's book is sharp and quick-witted. She knows her way around a sentence and exudes confidence.

Becoming Richard Pryor

Better written and more thoughtful than David and Joe Henry’s Furious Cool (2013). The latter remains worth reading, but this book is the place to start.

Chase Your Shadow

The fascinating story of a once-invincible man “who has made the best of the cards that life has dealt him but…revealed himself to possess to an equally extreme degree the insecurities that all are prey to.”

On the Road with Janis Joplin

Cooke chronicles Joplin’s all-too-brief career in the first person, present tense, creating an atmosphere of being on the spot, in the crowds, on the buses and planes, and in the bedrooms.

Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe: A Biography

Wagstaff was a lover of beauty, undisciplined and impulsive and more than a little rapacious. These are hardly ideal attributes for a curator — but they can come in handy for a collector.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
The New York Times : Pop Music (December 05, 2014)

She writes beautifully, in a dreamy, self-interrogating, pre-Internet continuous present, a kind of imagistic drift in which the pale antiheroes of London punk rock come and go like skinny-legged ­poems.

Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir
The New York Times : Pop Music (December 05, 2014)

I finished “Brothas Be” with the sensation that I had been in touch with an indestructible intelligence, with a strain of humor so cosmically rarefied it had looped back on itself and become down-to-earth.

Even This I Get to Experience

There is still a lot of zest, passion and whimsy in the man who taught Americans to laugh at their failings. As Frances Lear would say to him when they were married: “Not bad for a little Jew from Hartford.”

Ambition and Desire: Napoleon's Josephine

Beyond her appreciation for “flawed, vulnerable, engaging, powerful” women, Williams does not seem to have a compelling reason to tell this story.

Yes Please

Amy Poehler admits she wrote her new memoir while sleep-deprived. And it shows. But not in an entirely bad way.

Wilde in America: Oscar Wilde and the Invention of Modern Celebrity

In his new biography of the Irish playwright, novelist and provocateur, “Wilde in America,” the journalist and cultural historian David M. Friedman argues that Wilde was among the very first to realize that celebrity could come before accomplishment.