Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tournament of Books Update

The first round and part of the second round of the 2012 Tournament of Books are now complete.  Some serious upsets (and my bracket is a mess now).  Here is the recap (winners are in bold)

Round 1
Sense of an Ending v. The Devil All the Time
Lightning Rods v. Salvage the Bones
1Q84 v. The Last Brother
Tiger's Wife v. The Stranger's Child
Sisters Brothers v. State of Wonder
The Cat's Table v. Swamplandia!
Marriage Plot v. Green Girl
Art of Fielding v. Open City

Round 2
Sense of Ending v. Lightning Rods
1Q84 v. Tiger's Wife

Remaining match ups in Round 2
Sisters Brothers v. Swamplandia!
Marriage Plot v. Open City

Several of my favorites are eliminated (Sense of an Ending, Tiger's Wife(!!) and Art of Fielding).  Maybe they make a come back in the zombie round.  Stay tuned for further updates....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Escape Artists by Noam Scheiber

However you feel about the current administration, I think it is important and helpful to get a fair and balanced account of how it works. Call it due diligence for the 2012 election.  The selections below meet that test.

The Escape Artists by Noam Scheiber describes the inner workings of the Obama administration's approach to manage the economy. In this well-researched book, Scheiber describes the history of the main actors, including their flaws and strengths, how decisions were made and what the conversations were. This book fits in the Bob Woodward genre; however, unlike Woodward, Scheiber does not use quotations as extensively. While I love reading Woodward, his books seem to quote people so extensively that it is hard to believe that everything is a "real time" quote. Scheiber does a masterful job of explaining the meltdown and the actors involved.  Areas that Scheiber tackles is the post-2008 election stimulus package, the deficit fight and the budget standoff. A similar book, Confidence Men, came out in 2011.  Similar topics, similar analysis and a bit more Woodward-ian. If the topic appeals to you, you cannot go wrong with either one.

If you are interested in the auto industry rescue, I would recommend Steve Rattner's Overhaul. It was a marvelous account of the how the government intervened and approached that restructuring. If you are in the restructuring field, it is a must read.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Expats by Chris Pavone

The Expats is a new thriller by time author Chris Pavone.  It was a quick, fun and enjoyable book. I'd quite happily pick up his next novel.  Pavone was a cookbook editor before he wrote this novel.

The Moores relocate to Luxembourg because Dexter has a new job with a bank there.  Kate leaves her public policy job in Washington D.C. and becomes a full time mother.  Unbeknownst to her husband, she in fact gave up for job with the CIA as a field operative.  The Moores are befriended by other American expats in Luxembourg.  Kate's training kicks in and she immediately suspects that the new friends are not who they say they are.  She begins to follow her intuition and uncovers layers and layers of deception.

What makes this novel a little different from the typical spy thriller is that it does not focus on any large international issues.  Rather, it is a highly personal and close up look into the mind of a spy.  Pavone does an great job of giving Kate voice and slowly revealing the facts.  There are several well executed "gotcha" moments.  Overall, it was a well executed and fun read.  The writing is crisp and easily approachable.

The interview video below was taped at The Mysterious Bookshop (my favorite bookshop in NYC).  If you jump to 3:51 and 5:19 in the video, you'll see me wandering around the bookstore.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tournament of Books 2012

The Tournament of Books (March Madness for Book Lovers) has started.  The bracket is below.  Very exciting to follow. The first round is posted tomorrow.  I think this is the year of the new novelists.  Based on that, my picks are as follows:

Round 1:
Sense of Ending
Salvage the Bones
Tiger's Wife
Sisters Brothers
Marriage Plot
Art of Fielding

Round 2:
Sense of Ending
Tiger's Wife
Sisters Brothers
Art of Fielding

Round 3 (it may change depending on the Zombies):
Tiger's Wife
Art of Fielding

Tiger's Wife

Good luck, enjoy and stay tuned for updates.