Notable books for the week of May 11, 1990
Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart Joyce Carol Oates (Dutton, $19.95) The masterful realist at the peak of her remarkable powers. Comparisons with Balzac, Dickens, and Hardy are not farfetched. A
Buster Midnight’s Cafe Sandra Dallas (Random House, $17.95) A movie-struck retro fable grounded in Montana grit and centered around a Tinseltown murder. B+
Family Pictures Sue Miller (Harper & Row, $19.95) An ordinary Chicago family with an autistic child — a loving, suffering family, which endures and tries to learn. A
Saturday Night Susan Orlean (Knopf, $19.95) The rituals of Saturday night as observed by Americans from Massachusetts to Cheyenne. A-
Simone de Beauvoir Deirdre Bair (Summit, $24.95) Praise to the biographer who gave Beauvoir the last word on her life: ”I lived it the way I wanted. I’m sorry to disappoint all the feminists, but you can say that it’s too bad many of them live only in theory instead of in real life. It’s very messy in the real world.” B+
Solomon Gursky Was Here Mordecai Richler (Knopf, $19.95) A novel full of wonderful particulars, but one without much heart. B
The Wench Is Dead Colin Dexter (St. Martin’s, $15.95) Mystery entertainment at its lean, clever best. This is armchair detection that bears comparison with Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time. A
The Answer Is Baseball: A Book of Questions That Illuminate the Great Game Luke Salisbury (Vintage, paperback, $8.95) A baseball catechism.
The Complete Book of Greek Cooking The Recipe Club of Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral (Harper & Row, $27.95) A third volume of traditional Greek cookery from the Recipe Club of Saint Paul’s (Hempstead, Long Island).
Homesick Guy Vanderhaeghe (Ticknor & Fields, $19.95) Three generations exploring — and sometimes bridging — the silences between them.
Naked by the Window: The Fatal Marriage of Carl Andre and Ana Mendieta Robert Katz (Atlantic Monthly Press, $19.95) With this book, Katz wishes to do what the courts did not: convict sculptor Carl Andre of pitching his wife, the artist Ana Mendieta, out of their bedroom window to her death 34 stories below. A-
Spring Snow; Runaway Horses; The Temple of Dawn; The Decay of the Angel Yukio Mishima (Vintage, paperback, $10.95 each) The Sea of Fertility tetralogy is Mishima without all the morbid mishigas. B+
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey From War to Peace Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts (Plume, paperback, $9.95) The final film in director Oliver Stone’s Vietnam trilogy (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July) will be based on this book.
You Must Remember This: An Oral History of Manhattan From the 1890s to World War II Jeff Kisseloff (Schocken, paperback, $14.95) If oral history has any merits, they are shown to best advantage in this spirited homage to Manhattan. A