Think Globally, Read and Write Locally

Article excerpt

So many books, so little space to review them. And let's face it, too little time to read everything, anyway. So what is to be done with the scores of worthy local books that come into a newspaper every year, but sink into undeserved obscurity? With apologies to Dave Eggers, sometimes the book review editor and an army of well- meaning freelancers are too shortsighted to spot a work of "staggering genius."

This space is an attempt, perhaps irredeemably feeble, to address this oversight. Sometimes, all it takes is a note to let the public know that a book it has been yearning for has finally arrived. Meanwhile, the mechanics of what gets featured in full-length reviews is byzantine, even to those of us tasked with sorting through the onslaught.

If this sounds like a semi-pre-emptive apology, it is. In defense of this space, be assured that the books featured here deserve longer treatment. Alas, resources must be allocated and reasonable opportunities for sleep and other expenditures of energy indulged. For now, this will be a space where book signings and poetry readings will also be listed. The column will aim to run weekly (with weeks off to catch up on our own reading).

Please send physical books to Book Editor, Post-Gazette (34 Blvd of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222) and other information to the email below. Small press, self-published and e-books are welcome, as are all genres, including poetry. (Please don't send manuscripts, as we don't know any good literary agents.)

* Steve Hallock's "The Press March to War" (Peter Lang) is a sober, nonpartisan analysis of media complacency (and complicity) with the government during wartime. The subtitle spells out the Point Park University professor's premise in full: "Newspapers Set the Stage for Military Intervention in Post-World War II America." The Iraq debacle is Exhibit A, but it isn't an isolated folly, by any means. peterlang.com

* Graphic novels don't get more earnest than Howard Shapiro's "The Stereotypical Freaks," a coming of age tale about a rock 'n' roll band composed of a familiar quartet of high school archetypes. The Pittsburgh-based author collaborated with Joe Pekar, Ed Brisson and Vickie Adair to put flesh on the book's very hip bones. …