Monday, June 1, 2009

Boston Globe's Alex Beam on literary Cold War fun

I miss The Boston Globe's Living/Arts section. First of all, it's not there for me to try and sell stories to -- even though I only ever sold them one. (But, it was a good one. See "Lightman's Dream.")

I don't like having to poke around the G section for Alex Beam, who used to be right out front and is now tucked inside the back page. He's usually funny and smart and just a little bit mean. This weekend, he migrated to the book page with a review of a K BLOWS TOP: A Cold War Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist by Peter Carlson.

I plan to dedicate the second half of my life to a new cause: books that are fun to read. No more heartwarming dog tales, no more Le Carre lite. Forget mawky "uplifting," creaky "neo-Gothic," unfunny "humorous," "luminous" meanderings by the Yaddo crowd, and grant-funded "fresh new takes on blah, blah, blah." Basta! I am going to review and promote books that promise maximum enjoyment.

"K Blows Top," by former Boston Herald-American and Washington Post writer Peter Carlson fits the bill.

I usually browse the Globe book section on my way to check for readings. But I spent some time there this weekend.

This book also looked good.

Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery," makes an essential point: We should measure the damage to our natural heritage less by counting extinctions, and more by understanding that it is abundance itself that has been drained away. Because there's absolutely nothing special about Alaska except that its remoteness means we haven't completely wrecked it (yet). The Charles River's delta was every bit as fecund. (Ever ask yourself why they call that subway station "Alewife?" Try to imagine a fish run on an Alaskan scale up into the creeks of Arlington.) So was Chesapeake Bay, and the mouth of the Hudson, and everyplace else - the forest that greeted the Pilgrims when they landed in Massachusetts was nearly as stunning as those remnant old-growth forests of the West

And, here's a photo feature on used and specialty book stores.

Hey, bibliophiles! Short on dough but craving some new food for thought? We feel your pain. The greater Boston area is full of great used and antiquarian bookstores; perfect to pad out your bookshelf while going easy on your wallet (and the environment). Here, a look at the top spots and a map that plots out even more in the Boston area. Now get reading!
—Nicole Cammorata

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