PositiveThe Los Angeles Times...[a] powerful, gracefully written memoir ... Offutt beautifully captures the cultural and subcultural mores of the 1960s and '70s, including a peek into the burgeoning world of science-fiction conventions.
Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the WorldBilly Bragg
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune...[a] fantastic history of a little known though immensely influential musical form ... As far as that 'dead ground' of British music, Bragg makes good in his argument that skiffle changed the world ... Bragg’s enthusiasm for his subject shines in this definitive, if at times dense, history of skiffle music — and it’s a fascinating read.
Where the Past BeginsAmy Tan
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune...an] honest, thoughtful, at times meandering memoir ... Fans of Tan’s novels The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement will be thrilled to read about the inspirations for her characters and stories. These chapters really shine, as when she beautifully re-creates in her mind — based on the stories told to her — the lives of her mother (her first husband would put a gun to her head when she refused to have sex with him) and grandmother (who, as a widowed mother, became a concubine) ... Unfortunately, the book loses focus at times, as Tan includes journal entries, stories of cave exploring on Easter Island and e-mails between herself and her editor, Daniel Halpern. The passages offer real insight into Tan, but often feel like digressions.
Vacationland: True Stories from Painful BeachesJohn Hodgman
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune... a hilarious and irreverently sincere collection of personal essays ... Throughout the book Hodgman is charmingly arrogant and self-deprecating ... Parts of the book he has used in his live stage appearances, and at times you get the sense that he’s delivering a monologue, and it works nicely on the page ... It is when Hodgman focuses on his children that he is at his most playful, and when thoughts of mortality creep in.