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In our pages: E.L. Doctorow, Colm Toibin, boxing, Lee Krasner

March 19, 2011 |  9:41 am

Krasner_doctorow
In our pages Sunday, we review books on boxing and artist Lee Krasner, two young adult novels, the latest novel from Alice Hoffman, short story collections from Colm Tóibín and E.L. Doctorow and more. The reviews are online now.

David L. Ulin reviews "All the Time in the World: New and Selected Stories" by E.L. Doctorow, an unexpected collection from a National Book Award-winning and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author best known for big novels such as "Ragtime." Many of the characters, Ulin writes, suffer from "emotional exhaustion, the sense of having been caught unexpectedly in the middle of their lives with no clear through-line between the present and the past. As for the future, it is something of a glaring blankness, less a promise than a burden to be endured."

A "slow deletion of personal relationships" is at the center of the nine stories in Colm Tóibín's "The Empty Family," George Ducker writes. "Tóibín projects a slideshow of reclusive figures, many of whom have found that a life well-hid is a life sufficient. With a spare, eloquent style, he guides us through hotel lobbies and pensiónes from Dublin to Barcelona. He directs our attention to estranged family members, divorcées and Muslim immigrants, catching each of them at the moment in which they are forced to reckon with their pasts."

In 1973, Lee Krasner told a reporter, "I happen to be Mrs. Jackson Pollock, and that's a mouthful. The only thing I haven't had against me was being black. I was a woman, Jewish, a widow, a damn good painter, thank you, and a little too independent." Suzanne Muchnic writes in her review of the new biography "Lee Krasner," "Art historian Gail Levin, also an expert on artist Edward Hopper, has drawn on her close association with Krasner and extensive research to produce a biography that rings fair and true."

"No sport has been painted in print as vividly" as boxing, Mike Downey writes in our review of the Library of America's new 517-page anthology "At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing." "'At the Fights" is a treasure chest. It overflows with rings of gold. A quibble is its overload of East Coast delights — any scribe with a table at Elaine's or a keyboard along the Eastern Seaboard stood a fighting chance to be immortalized herein, whereas a worthy contender out of a Fort Worth or Detroit or San Francisco need not have applied. H.L. Mencken makes an appearance, though he had about as much to do with boxing as Jane Austen did with beach volleyball.... A split decision, but for the most part please do pay to view."

""The Red Garden" is a fantastical history of Blackwell, Mass., from 1750 to the present, replete with intermarried families, melancholic bears and altruistic mermaids. If you have trouble with bears and mermaids, this just isn't your kind of book." However, if you're a fan of Alice Hoffman, her new novel "The Red Garden" may hit the right spot, reviewer Valerie Miner writes.

In our column on young adult fiction, Not Just for Kids, Susan Carpenter reviews "We All Fall Down: A Memoir" by Nick Sheff and "Recovery Road: A Novel" by Blake Nelson. In Discoveries, Susan Salter Reynolds reviews "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe" by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, "Cleaning Nabokov's House: A Novel" by Leslie Daniels and "This River: A Memoir" by James Brown. And in Word Play, Sonja Bolle reviews "Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best" by Maria Padian (ages 12 and up), the picture books "You're Finally Here!" by Melanie Watt and "Daddy Adventure Day" by Dave Keane.

See the complete Sunday books pages here.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Left, Lee Krasner in her studio Aug. 30, 1956, two weeks after Jackson Pollock's death. Visible are her "Prophecy" (CR302, right) and "Cauldron" (CR300, unfinished, behind). Credit: Waintrob-Budd, William Morrow. Right, E.L. Doctorow. Credit: Francesca Magnani / Random House

 

 

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