Baum on Books

BOOK REVIEW: Don't Look For Me

Oct 16, 2020

The screenwriter who penned "Psycho" is quoted as saying that when we watch or read scary stuff we don’t think about the real things that are frightening us. We allow ourselves to be “frightened by fantasy and that’s not only more bearable” than dealing with unbearable reality — it may also help us cope better with crises, be more resilient when preparing for tough times. 

What literary text could seem further from reality these days than Beowulf — that approximately 1,500-year-old Anglo Saxon verse epic about a Scandinavian hero fighting monsters that’s known mainly by English majors and then, mostly in translation! Yet here are two new Beowulfs, different translations and genres, out this past August, that in their separate imaginative ways have something to say to our troubled times.

It’s always challenging to write about a group of short stories: What to mention? In Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s new collection called Truthtelling, “Pickup” deserves notice because, like the last story in the book, about a page turner of musical scores,  it references music, a special love, the author says, that has always informed her writing style.

Book Review: Moonflower Murders

Aug 28, 2020

British author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, is best known to American audiences  through his popular PBS series Foyle’s War and Midsommer Murders.  He’s now out with a new mystery novel.   It’s the sequel to his popular work, Magpie Murders.   And it’s a doozy!

  Scott Turow’s been called the king of legal thriller writers – with 30 million books in print, many made into memorable movies, but as his latest work shows, The Last Trial, he should be called a “novelist.” In the old-fashioned, big theme sense of the word. His books -- suspenseful, complex, filled with heady content and dramatic exchanges –are always timely, and none more so than The Last Trial, given the race to discover a vaccine against Covid-19.