John Irving's review of Gunther Grass' Peeling the Onion

in the New York Times Book Review, Sunday July 8, 2007In an era when daily newspapers are downsizing book review sections--or gutting them altogether--it's more than heartening to see the Gray Lady let John Irving unwind for more than 4,400 words on Gunther Grass' memoir in its Sunday book review. I've never been even a passing fan of either--I read Grass' The Tin Drum more out of a sense of duty to try to be something resembling a literate person, not coming from a background that put any priority on such, and dove into a string of Irving in my late teens because college peers from better, private East Coast schools had read him, and, I feared, my missing allusions to such didn't endear me to the young women from better, private East Coast schools. Neither grabbed me as a reader, and I never thought once about revisiting either when there's Boris Vian to reread or Wyndham Lewis to retackle. But Irving's "A Soldier Once" guided tour through Grass' memoir--intimate, personal, exceptionally informed, and lovingly elucidated--makes me feel like I need to revisit both, especially Grass. What more can you ask for from an essay--and what better argument for the value of book review sections in newspapers.Mike Jones' "My 64" featuring Bun B and Snoop DoggHouston humid gully beats meet California G-funk in this wiggly lead single from Mike Jones' upcoming The American Dream. And it's a sensible sonic and thematic match: Both Houston's Fifth Ward and Compton are perfect climes for this ode to classic convertible cars.Superbad, due out in August, and its trailer alone has almost caused a little pee to come out with laughter.

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