Our most popular book reviews, essays and readings from the last five years --- being those that received and continue to receive the most number of hits. (Arranged in order of popularity.)

  • Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, by Marya Hornbacher (Harper). "The truth is," said our reviewer, "Hornbach probably needed nothing more than a couple of whacks on the fanny."

  • "Fatty Arbuckle." An appreciation of the classic silent-era movie star, by Wanda Felix.

  • Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D. H. Lawrence (First Penguin Books Edition, September, 1946) "Has some generally useful descriptions of wildlife, botany, and hunting practices at a typical Edwardian English estate, but --- unfortunately --- the noisome activities of a certain gamekeeper and the lady of the house keep getting in the way of these otherwise excellent passages."

  • A Woman of Rome, by Alberto Moravia, Translated by Lydia Holland (Steerforth Italia). "She pulls all men into her, sees them all with a dispassionate warmth that leads us to believe that perhaps she is one of the divine, a Mary Magdelaine, the Sweet Mother of Jesus, our Lady of the Streets."

  • "Why Anti-matter Matters," by Douglas Cruickshank. Thoughts about Alfred Jarry, the inventor of 'pataphysics. ("Physics is to metaphysics as 'pataphysics is to metaphysics.")

  • Dr. Laura: The Unauthorized Biography, by Vickie L. Bane (St Martins). "Schlessinger has a PhD, but it isn't in psychology --- it's in physiology. Her doctorate was entitled Effects of Insulin on 3-0 Methylglucose Transport in Isolated Rat Adipocytes. According to one of her professors, she spent most of her doctoral training time pulling fat pads off rat testicles."

  • The Windsor Style, by Suzy Menkes (Salem House). "The Duke and Duchess (called, once, by an errant radio announcer, the 'Duck and Doochess of Windsor') weren't exactly Yesterday's Fun Couple, although they did have their moments: He would call newspapers noospapers with the American inflection, and would answer the telephone: Hallo! It's the Dook here."

  • Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, by Larry E. Tise (University of Georgia Press). "God set different Orders and Degrees of Men in the World ... some to be High and Honourable, some to be Low and Despicable," wrote John Saffin. "Servants of sundry sorts and degrees, bound to obey; yea, some to be born Slave, and so to remain during their lives."

  • "Freeland." A meditation on land and land-use in Mexico, as compared to that of the United States.

  • " Credo," by Aquiles Nazoa (Mho & Mho Works)
    I believe in Pablo Neruda, almighty creator of heaven and earth
    I believe in Charlie Chaplin
    Son of violets and mice
    Who was crucified, died, and laid in the grave by his era,
    but who each day is revived in the hearts of men.

  • "The Raven," by Edgar Allen Poe (Northeastern University). "Not only the Gods, but the Gauls, must be crazy. They idolize Jerry Lewis and Edgar Allen Poe. Maybe, based on the early Martin and Lewis corpus, we can understand some of the interest in the former. But Poe: fagh! Try reading him aloud without dropping your mental crankshaft."

  • The Encyclopedia of Glass Paperweights by Paul Hollister, Jr. (Paperweight Press). "We know, we know --- given the famines in Africa, the murders in Bosnia, and Pat Robertson railing about the things we are doing with our privates --- why should we be concerned about glass paperweights? Well, why not?"

  • H. L. Mencken on Civilization. "A society made up wholly of philosophers would not be civilized, nor one made up only of artists; there must also be charming women and good cooks."

  • "Hitler's First Photograph."
    And who's this little fellow in his itty-bitty robe?
    That's tiny baby Adolf, the Hittler's little boy!
    Will he grow up to be an LL.D.?
    Or a tenor in Vienna's Opera House?

  • Confucius in 90 Minutes, by Paul Strathern (Ivan R. Dee). Our reviewer imagines Strathern's marching orders: "Keep it short, below 10,000 words. And for christssakes Paul --- keep it light!"

  • "A Brief History of Mexico." "While America was busy with the Civil War, the French landed at Very Cruz and marched on the capitol with wagons filled with baguettes and petits-fours."

  • "Cousin Hans." "I remember sitting alone on the steps, hearing my seven-year-old friend crying out, begging his father to stop, please to stop, please, it hurts so."

Go Home     Subscribe to RALPH     Go Up