Good Reading : March 2008
38 goodreading ı MARCH 2008 word of mouth general non-fiction Everything about books www.goodreadingmagazine.com ONLINE Reporting: Writings from the New Yorker David Remnick This is the crème de la crème, a showcase of high-end American profile jour nalism where report- age becomes, well, an artfor m. Writer David Remnick began as a jour neyman hack on the Washington Post in 1982. He joined the staff of New Yorker magazine in 1992, became editor in 1998, and still occupies the chair. He has the luxury of length, but he never abuses that length by prattling on or indulging in unnecessary verbiage. Few of his many thousand words, if any, are wasted, and that’s helped by extensive background research and many hours spent in the company of his subjects. Some such encounters escape the confines of the traditional for- mality of face-to-face interviews: nsights are at times gathered from amblings in museums and amiable essions in coffee lounges. Conse- quently, while most of his subjects Philip Roth, Don DeLillo and the ke) are famous figures who have been featured a thousand times over, Remnick has the knack of serving up a unique tour de force each time, giving new insight and depth. Even his sporting reportage, which occupies the closing chapters of this book, is breathtaking in its freshness. His profile of boxer Mike Tyson is devastating, delivering a sense of a man who is far more intelligent than popularly portrayed and therefore far madder … and more dangerous. ★★★★★ RG Picador $24.95 Reviewed by Peter Olszewski Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me Lucia Van Der Post My great-aunt, a for mer Schiaparelli model, passed on these words of advice: ‘Never wear diamonds in the country. Cheat on clothes not on accessories. Pair atter ns ith plains. f in doubt, on’t.’ She would ave rel- shed this book.Van Der Post, a style maven who writes a weekly column in The Times, has the voice of experience as she advises on dressing stylishly, organising your wardrobe, your makeup and your fitness regime. This is in-depth superficiality of the highest order. Van Der Post knows where to find the finest linen in Paris, the cheekiest bags in London, the most trusted cosmetic surgeons in New York. (Australia doesn’t get a guer nsey, alas, but la Lucia is obviously more at home in Milan or Florence.) She’s less sure-footed when it comes to personal matters, and her chapters on, love, mar riage and happiness and organising your life are cliché-ridden at best. However, her food section is excellent and her tips for stress-free dinner parties invaluable. I recommend her recipe for chilled melon soup. ★★ John Murray $39.95 Reviewed by Dina Ross An Explorer’s Notebook: Essays on Life, History and Climate Tim Flannery Flannery fans will no doubt avidly take up this selection of his writing, reviews and speeches from 1985 to 2007. So let’s address less familiar readers. Are the early pieces dated? Flannery himself mentions his youthful ‘naivety’, but his quests for jungle species in New Guinea are still fresh and exciting today. Is his work too scientific for the lay reader? No: he has the gift of writing simply, graphically, from the heart and yet embed- ding science and research into his account. One-third of the book comprises articles from popular media. Reviews (1999-2007) for The Times Literary Supplement and the New York Review of Books are more profound, but still very accessible. He is Australia’s David Attenborough! Who would enjoy this book? Those who enjoy a good bedtime tory along natural history lines.’ What does he write about? For example: research in the field, econstructing fossil animals, genes and love, locust plagues, trees and their wonderful specific uses and, of course, climate change. His essay ‘A New Adventure’ is vital, inspiring reading. He questions the sustainability of our fragile Australian environment. He is provocative; but is he always practical? This collection traces the evolution of a world-renowned scientist and, without being didactic, reinforces the notion of the interconnectedness of all life on earth, past and present. ★★★★★ RG Text Publishing $34.95 Reviewed by Barbara Baker www.goodreadingmagazine.com Find a bookshop that stocks the books YOU LIKE TO READ! Find out what book events are HAPPENING NEAR YOU! Let us help you find an OUT-OF-PRINT BOOK! SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE E-NEWSLETTER!