• Emailarticle
  • Writecomment

Book Reviews

We welcome your review. If we publish it, we will send you a gift certificate for dinner. E-mail to editorial@chicagolife.net or mail to Chicago Life Reviews, P.O. Box 11131, Chicago IL 60611-0311

We’ve Got Issues by Judith Warner (Riverhead Books, $25.95). Best-selling author Judith Warner has done it again. This important book is a must-read, not only for parents but also for all those involved in child rearing—especially teachers and members of the medical profession.
  Society is becoming more familiar with the esoteric language of mental illness. Bipolar, manic-depressive and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are but a few of the many terms that the pubic is all too aware of. Sadly, they continue affecting children more and more.
  The reader learns that many children have been over-medicated in the past. But this situation is changing; and most parents and doctors are becoming more cautious in supplying remedies for children.
  Warner is forthright and honest in recounting her mistaken preconceived notions about children’s medical and psychological problems. Although it’s a troubling topic, the book’s ending is upbeat because at long last Americans are beginning to face the serious problems of children’s mental health. Judith Warner was right on target in titling her book We’ve got Issues.—Emily McCormack.

Zoetrope by Francis Ford Coppola. (AZX Publications, $8.00) Coppola never ceases to impress, from his films to his ventures in winemaking, cafés, and resorts, as well as his most recent business endeavor—a seasonal literary magazine titled Zoetrope: All Story. Zoetrope has published short stories and essays from both arising and renowned writers and filmmakers such as Neil Jordan, Margaret Atwood, Kurt Vonnegut, and Steven Spielberg.
   Woody Allen contributed to the summer issue with his short story “Heavy Bread and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” a dark humorist approach to the annoyances and contradictory benefits of psychoanalysts when treating the extremely wealthy in New York.
   Jim Shepard, who won the National Book Award Story Prize in 2007, wrote “The Track of the Assassins,” a captivating account of a woman traveling alone in the most desolate and dangerous regions of the Middle East with two questionable guides. The story switches between flashbacks of serious events in her life and her explorative journeys. The parallels between her travels and life events manifest in a gentle but thought-provoking ending.
   Each issue of the magazine also features a “Classic Reprint,” a previously published story that inspired a great film. The summer edition reprint is Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s In a Grove which is one out of two Akutagawa stories that inspired Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece film “Rashoman.” Zoetrope can be found at bookstores and through subscription (www.all-story.com).—Allie Howard

The I Can’t Get Enough Club by Mark B. Weiss (Benjamin Mandel Publishing, $14.95). This debut novel by real estate expert Mark B. Weiss is a fascinating and gritty story centered around greed, insider information and financial intrigue. With Chicago as the backdrop, the book gives an inside look at the worlds of banking, business, and politics. The author writes with passion as he entertains the reader with a timely tale. Hard to put down!—Barbara J. Navarro

Bet the House by Richard Roeper. (Chicago Review Press, $19.95). Roeper is well-known as a film critic. We know he loves movies—but gambling? Roeper has written an intriguing story, appealing to both gamblers and non-gamblers. Roeper recounts his first bet—at age eleven—on the Muhammed Ali/Joe Frazier prizefight.
  Roeper takes us on a 30-day trip, risking thousands of dollars, and chronicles his month-long activities, writing a book to share that experience with the world. During our travels with him, we meet men and women of all types, most of them gamblers. Familiar names leap from the pages: Angelina Jolie, Hugh Hefner, Sylvester Stallone, even Fyodor Dostoevsky of Crime and Punishment fame.
  Before long you will become familiar with the language of gambling. Three-bet parlay. Point spread. Mega Millions. Little Lotto. Powerball. Heads-up poker.
   Roeper spells out in graphic detail the gambler’s pain of loss and the thrill of winning. Is this book a great page-turner? You bet your life it is!—Emily McCormack

The Imperfectionists: A Novel By Tom Rachman, (The Dial Press, $25.00). Rachman’s first novel is a humdinger. Set in Rome, it follows the lives of the staff of a struggling publication, each trying to prevent the demise of their newspaper—with personal circumstances that link over decades. From the vibrations and noise of the presses on the bottom level of the building to the newsroom with dirty white carpet, the flailing newspaper endures along with the lives of the staff over years of struggling, as the characters reveal their secrets, joys and petty resentments. Their relationships are woven together with heartbreak and humor—from the copy editor to the Cairo stringer to Cyrus Ott, the publisher, to members of the Ott family who inherit the struggling newspaper. Each is a survivor. The characters will remain with you long after you finish this immensely enjoyable book.—PB

Published: August 08, 2010
Issue: Fall 2010 Issue