March 20, 2011

Book Review Roundup

A look at three books I've read lately:

- "The Accidental Billionaires," by Ben Mezrich. My appreciation of "The Social Network" has risen even further now that I know that its source material was total shit. Some of the worst prose ever, and it achieved the extraordinary feat of making a fascinating true story sound boring.

There's also the creepy insistence on repeatedly providing lurid descriptions of female body parts- and how many times did the author feel the need to mention that Eduardo Saverin is attracted to Asian women? 15?

It just gives me the impression that the great stuff about the movie- the characterization, the deposition-based structure- all Sorkin. The Oscar was well-deserved.

- "Zombie Spaceship Wasteland," by Patton Oswalt. Oswalt's first book is pretty much a triumph all around. A Klosterman-like mix of essays, personal stories and pop culture theories, I read it all in two days, and that's including the three chapters that were so great that I read each one a second time. I can only hope, like Klosterman, Patton writes five more books that are mostly along the same lines.

I can't even remember the last time a book made me laugh out loud on a plane.

- "Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America," by Peter Biskind Biskind's expansive biography of the biggest movie star of the '70s, who also seemingly had affairs with every single woman who was breathing, walking and sentient at the time, has some good stuff in it, but my goodness, what a slog. This book took me almost three months to get through.

Biskind is a great writer, and his "Easy Riders Raging Bulls" is probably my favorite book about movies ever. But this isn't nearly as good- and the author reuses whole sentences and paragraphs from the earlier book.

There's a simple formula: about 20 pages about one of Beatty's classic movies, 20 more pages about each of his famous affairs. And even though pretty much all the stories make Warren look like a monstrous asshole, you can tell Biskind wishes he'd been his wing man.

(I remember seeing an Adam Sandler movie while reading the book and thinking that a career-spanning biography of Sandler- who's been in very few good movies and had no famous affairs- would be about 20 pages long.)

I'm reading the Bill Carter Conan/Leno book right now and love it so far.

Posted by Stephen Silver at March 20, 2011 08:32 PM
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