Books

Review: Selected Stories

By Elisabeth Luard, January 28, 2010

By Stefan Zweig
Pushkin Press, £9.99

Great storytellers reflect their times, and Stefan Zweig lived through terrible times. Yet a writer whose task it is to shed light upon darkness can also offer redemption, and it is this, in the shape of the redeeming power of love, that lies at the heart of these narratives.

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Review: Why The Dreyfus Affair Matters

By Natasha Lehrer, January 21, 2010

By Louis Begley
Yale University Press, £18

Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters combines the acuity of a legal mind — its author Louis Begley was a lawyer for 45 years — with the sensibility of a novelist (he wrote, among other novels, About Schmidt and Matters of Honour). The result is a brilliant work of historical storytelling, reminding us to what extent the drama is in the detail.

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Love Junkie: A memoir of Love and sex addiction

By Brigit Grant, January 21, 2010

By Rachel Resnick
Bloomsbury, £7.99

When Hollywood types began seeking treatment for sex addiction in the 1990s, cynical Brits dismissed it as a “condition” cooked up by serial adulterers who needed a clinical alibi to get off the hook. But it seems we were wrong.

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Criminal behaviour therapy

By Jenni Frazer, January 21, 2010

Frank Tallis’s sixth adventure for his Viennese psychoanalyst, Deadly Communion, (Century, £12.99) is heavy on the psych and not much cop, frankly, on the analysis — I had the murderer pegged halfway through.

Not only that, but Tallis’s eagerness to pin the crime on the, er, donkey, requires a stunt so wildly improbable that it would be bizarre even if carried out in the present day, let alone in the more staid, 19th-century Vienna.

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Review: Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis

By Ariel Kahn, January 14, 2010

By Robert Crumb
Jonathan Cape, £18.99

Robert Crumb is the Woody Allen of comics, a hero of the 1960s counter-culture who revelled in the portrayal of the agonies and ecstasies of his liberated libido, while displaying all the angst of Philip Roth’s Portnoy.

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Review: Mitzvah Girls

By Miriam Shaviv, January 14, 2010

By Ayala Fader
Princeton University Press £15.95

When a man passes her in the street, “Gitty”, a Chasidic girl from New York, says she steps aside. A young male Torah scholar should not be distracted by “hearing the sound of her pumps as she goes by”. The streets, she says, “belong to the men”.

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Ashes in the Wind: The Destruction of Dutch Jewry

By Ben Barkow, January 7, 2010

By Jacob Presser
Souvenir Press, £15

Ashes in the Wind is Dr Jacob Presser’s classic account of the Holocaust in the Netherlands. First published in 1965, it is a product of what one might term the heroic generation of Holocaust writings, predating the tidal wave of scholarship and memoirs that began in the 1970s and which today shows little sign of receding. Its re-publication, in Arnold Pomerans’s translation, is to be welcomed.

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Review: We Are All made of Glue

By Peter Moss, January 7, 2010

By Marina Lewycka
Penguin, £18.99

We all know silence.

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Cripplingly funny? Just crippling

By Jenni Frazer, January 7, 2010

Maybe you just have to be in the mood for it. Maybe it is not a good idea to discover a whimsical series four books down the line. Maybe I felt a bit short-changed that I did not find Ian Sansom’s writing “cripplingly funny” as did, evidently, a previous reviewer from the Independent.

Basically, I read through the 358 pages of cock-eyed Irish charm that comprise The Bad Book Affair (Fourth Estate, £7.99) desperately searching for a story.

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Review: The World of Yesterday

By David Herman, December 29, 2009

By Stefan Zweig (Trans: Anthea Bell)
Pushkin Press £20

Stefan Zweig was one of the great central European writers of the 20th century and his memoir, The World of Yesterday, is his masterpiece. It was written just before he left America for Brazil, where he and his wife committed suicide in 1942. A superb evocation of turn-of-the-century Vienna written in a series of hotel rooms, it is laden with Zweig’s awareness that he was writing about a vanished world.

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