Media Monday - A Valentine to Books


Hello, and welcome to Media Monday. Judging by the time at which I'm posting this, there's a good chance you're reading it on Tuesday, so let me be the first to wish you Happy Valentine's Day. On second thought, I hope I wasn't the first. And hopefully I won't be the last today either. Happy Valentine's Day.

Here's some book news...

The New York Times

  • The Sunday Book Review has a long review of Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers, which was the spotlight pick for our February Best Books of the Month list. The Times states that it is an "extraordinary first book, which describes a few months in the life of a young garbage trader, Abdul, and his friends and family." Boo, who won a Pulitzer for social service when she was at the Washington Post, spent year researching, and often living among, denizens of a slum called Annawadi, near Mumbai’s airport, and she writes about them with rare intimate knowledge. Suffice it to say, this is not "Slumdog Millionaires," for as we know, reality is generally much harsher than the movies. As the review draws to a close, reviewer Pankaj Mishra begins to sum up the ultimate value behind Boo's book: "'The poor,' she explains further, 'blame one another for the choices of governments and markets, and we who are not poor are ready to blame the poor just as harshly.' Meanwhile, only 'the faintest ripple' is created 'in the fabric of the society at large,' for in places like Mumbai, 'the gates of the rich . . . remained un­breached, . . . the poor took down one another, and the world’s great, unequal cities soldiered on in relative peace.' In its own quiet way, Behind the Beautiful For­evers disturbs this peace more effectively than many works of polemic and theory."

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    Why do we need introverts? According to Judith Warner's review of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, "Unchecked extroversion— a personality trait Cain ties to ebullience, excitability, dominance, risk-taking, thick skin, boldness and a tendency toward quick thinking and thoughtless action — has actually, she argues, come to pose a real menace of late. The outsize reward-seeking tendencies of the hopelessly ­outer-directed helped bring us the bank meltdown of 2008 as well as disasters like Enron, she claims. With our economy now in ruins, Cain writes, it’s time to establish 'a greater balance of power' between those who rush to speak and do and those who sit back and think."

  • Norumbega Park: A Novel gets a strong review. "Anthony Giardina’s new novel begins on a country road in Massachusetts in 1969, with 39-year-old Richie Palumbo and his family — his son, daughter and wife — out for a drive near their home in Waltham. At twilight, they happen upon the seemingly idyllic WASPy town of Norumbega. Slowing down, Richie spots a house that he’s instantly drawn to, one he decides is meant to be his home." Which raises a natural question: "Can the Italian-American Palumbos rise above their social station?" Palumbo gets his home at great cost, but as you can imagine, that alone will not raise him above his social station. "As Giardina’s novel sorts this out, it delves into what is hidden — the dreams, the shame, the faith — in the complex folds of one family’s life."

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