Unsure what new book to read next? Sit back: We read the book reviews in case you missed them. Below are the collected reviews of two new memoirsÂ being discussed in leading journals and magazines. Today we look at "Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation" by Rachel Cusk, and "My Life As a Mankiewicz: An Insiderâ€™s Journey through Hollywood" by Tom Mankiewicz.Â
"Aftermath" by Rachel Cusk
Rachel Cusk has made quite a name for herself in England. Her fiction is top-notch, having won the Whitbread First Novel Award for "Saving Agnes" in 1993, and shines brightest when shedding light on domestic matters. Her imaginative insights cut deeply across family ties to expose the hidden realities behind everyday relationships. When it comes to nonfiction, however, she loses her audience. In "Aftermath," a memoir of divorce, Cusk polarizes her base with what'sÂ perceivedÂ as pretension and overwrought intellectualism.
"As a whole," writes Emma Gilbey Keller of The New York Times, "this book doesn't work." Her writing comes off as "self-involved," her papers riddled with "pretension," her tale too "tedious." Her "obvious love for" her children bless the book with "vibrant passages," but the "lack of detail" about her divorce is the book's "most glaring omission." Her cerebral slant is the subject of all "Aftermath" reviews. Liza Mundy of The San Francisco Chronicle asks the reader to accept Cusk's foundering marriage to make way for the "compelling" and "restlessly erudite portrait of post-marital strife." Yet Cusk "devastatingly emasculates her husband" in this "part puzzle and part disappointment" of a book, writesÂ Emily Bazelon of Slate,Â who only takes solace in the final pages that end with a chapter of fiction - her "favorite part."
"My Life As a Mankiewicz" by Tom Mankiewicz
Tom Mankiewicz came from an illustrious line ofÂ entertainmentÂ whizzes extraordinaire. His father won four Oscars in two years, having written and directed the classic film All About Eve. His uncle Herman Mankiewicz also won an Oscar for co-writing Citizen Kane. Without a Mankiewicz, there'd be no "rosebud." Tom, who bravely contributed to his memoir in the midst of pancreatic cancer that eventually took his life, followed in his family's footsteps. He wrote or co-wrote many of the James BondÂ films we quote today. The posthumous publication of Tom Mankiewicz's memoir is, by all reviewers' accounts, a trove of cinematic tales and celebrity gossip.
"Prime firsthand anecdotes fill this consistently readable and entertaining book," writes John DiLeo of The Washington Post. Martin Rubin of The Washington Times agrees, calling "My Life" something "bursting with good stories," suggesting he wouldn't mind reading Mankiewicz's stories for days on end: "This enormously entertaining memoir gives the reader the benefit of a superb raconteurâ€™s vast store of anecdote and incident." The Wall Street Journal's Scott Eyman reiterates that "My Life" is "not a superficial book either,Â and it's invariably entertaining, if only because a gift for words runs in the family."