Category Archives: Books

The Collaborator of Bethlehem

The Collaborator of Bethlehem The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I heard an interview with Matt Beynon Rees on NPR the other day and I am intrigued by his Palestinian detective, Omar Yussef. I like to read well written books about places I may never see. The Yacobian Building was a favorite of mine (and a fave film, too). I look forward to getting to this book and the sequels.

I have just finished the book and I must say I liked it a lot. Rees paints a lush and detailed canvas of Palestine. Bleak yet captivating. His character development is spot-on and his attention to detail is fantastic.

Matt Beynon Rees is the former Jerusalem bureau chief for Time magazine and it shows in his detailed perspective on the political realities of the Middle East. His prose range from the protean to the stunning. Here is a favorite passage of mine:

Yet the gunmen thrived, they whose accomplishments and talents were of the basest nature, they who would have been obliterated had there been law and order and honor in the town. Perhaps Bethlehem was there town after all, and it was Omar Yussef who was the outlaw interloper here, peddling contraband decency and running a clandestine trade in morality.

If you are at all interested in this part of the world, then this book should be on your list.
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Teacher Man – A Review

Teacher Man: A Memoir Teacher Man: A Memoir by Frank McCourt

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed Angela’s Ashes but was disappointed by ‘Tis. I had hopes that Teacher Man would return to the joyful optimism of McCourt’s first novel, and I was not let down.

Teacher Man covers some of the same time span as ‘Tis, but, as McCourt himself says in the preface, he realized after finishing ‘Tis that people may have gotten the impression that he suffered his life as a teacher, and he wanted to right that mis-perception.

Teacher Man is a celebration of what we can learn about ourselves when we help others. McCourt’s own suffering, which he celebrates here much as he did in Ashes, rather than lamenting as he did in ‘Tis, is more of a backdrop to the main story. In each chapter he picks out a story or two to illustrate how his teaching method evolved over the years, and as he learns to trust the pedagogue within him, we watch the shifting times and era of his life.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Angela’s Ashes. You do not need to have read ‘Tis to read this, and you might be happier skipping it.

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