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Jeff Bezos' wife gives Amazon book a one-star review

The wife of Jeff Bezos is giving a thumbs-down to a recent book about her husband’s company, Amazon.com Inc.

On Monday, MacKenzie Bezos posted a one-star review on the Amazon page for Brad Stone’s The Everything Store, which came out last month and has been received positively by critics and Amazon readers. Bezos wrote that the book was filled with inaccuracies and biased against her husband and Amazon. Spokeswoman Sarah Gelman of Seattle-based Amazon confirmed that the review was indeed written by MacKenzie Bezos.

“While numerous factual inaccuracies are certainly troubling in a book being promoted to readers as a meticulously researched definitive history, they are not the biggest problem here,” Bezos wrote. “The book is also full of techniques which stretch the boundaries of non-fiction, and the result is a lopsided and misleading portrait of the people and culture at Amazon.”

Stone, who authored the book, is a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek. As of Monday evening, his book ranked No. 109 on Amazon’s best seller list. The Everything Store is being billed as a rare look inside a “corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy,” a portrait Bezos is strongly disputing.

'The Whistling Skull' review: One of the best comic books of 2012

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One of the best comic books of 2012 slides right in under the wire with today’s release of The Whistling Skull #1 (DC Comics). The first of a six-part miniseries written by B. Clay Moore and drawn by Tony Harris, The Whistling Skull is at once a throwback to pulp fiction of the 1930s and ‘40s (think Doc Savage and Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu novels) and a beautiful, witty new piece of comic-book art. READ FULL STORY

The Vatican is no fan of J.K. Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy'

Even God didn’t like The Casual Vacancy. After being released to lukewarm reviews in September, J.K. Rowling’s first adult outing was slammed in a recent edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican.

Wait? The Vatican reviewed The Casual Vacancy? Yes, yes they did, as a part of their efforts to incorporate more pop culture into their weekly newspaper at the urgings of Pope Benedict XVI. The review criticized Rowling’s latest effort, claiming it “disappoints” and adding that it “needed a sprinkle of magic,” the UK’s Telegraph reports. “Fifty-six years after Peyton Place, an up to date — and British — version of that masterpiece of a social chronicle might make sense,” the review reads. “Rowling probably has all the qualifications to be the worthy successor of Grace Metaloius. But there’s something missing.” However, the newspaper did make it clear that it had “only admiration” for the Harry Potter scribe.

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J.K. Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy': Read EW's review

Nobody, it seems, says no to J.K. Rowling. After selling some 450 million copies of her justly beloved Harry Potter books, publishing’s biggest superstar could write a Proust-size ode to her toenails and eager editors would line up to publish it. She wrote a 500-page novel for grown-ups? Great! It’s got teen sex and explicit descriptions of shooting heroin and characters who say things to each other like “you useless f—in’ smackhead cow”? Uh, okay. It’s about a bunch of disagreeable buffoons bickering over a minor local-government job in Nowhere, England? Huh. If you say so…

The Casual Vacancy, Rowling’s overlong but often entertaining debut adult novel, is a big book that follows small people jockeying for a little position in the tiny town of Pagford. When one of the community’s 16 parish councilors unexpectedly dies of an aneurysm, a bunch of town notables try to use the ensuing “casual vacancy” to pursue various conflicting agendas. Rowling does a nice job laying out her 20-plus characters’ endless pretensions and weaknesses, which she punctures with gleeful flicks of a surprisingly sharp comic blade.  READ FULL STORY

Beastly 'Animal Man' sees red: A comics collection review

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The latest version of Buddy Baker, Animal Man, who can assume the powers and shapes of members of the animal kingdom, is one of the best of DC Comics’ “New 52” comics series, and the first six issues have been collected in a trade paperback titled Animal Man: Vol. 1 “The Hunt,” released today. READ FULL STORY

Novelist China Mieville calls you in 'Dial H': A comic-book review

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In one of the most delightfully random-seeming pair-ups, China Mieville, the superb sci-fi/fantasy novelist, is now writing his take on the 1960s comic book series Dial H for Hero. As part of the second wave of DC’s “New 52,” the first issue of what’s simply being called Dial H is a terrific tale of an ordinary schlub raised to hero status by accident. It’s an old trope but, as detailed vividly by Mieville, Dial H is full of cleverness and narrative energy. READ FULL STORY

Comic Book Review: Superstar scribe and former 'Lost' writer Brian K. Vaughan returns to comics with a sensational 'Saga'

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Brian K. Vaughan established himself as one of the best comic book writers of his generation with Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina, long-form serials populated with sharply conceived characters, crammed with witty, whip-smart banter and braided with storylines knotted with provocative philosophical ideas and controversial politics and charged with emotion. Nobody wrote smart people better. Few wrote women better. He rocked at writing superhero stuff (See: Runaways; Dr. Strange: The Oath), and even Iraqi zoo animals, too (Pride of Baghdad). Over the past few years, Vaughan has concentrated on planting flags in Hollywood. He worked for three seasons on Lost and is currently developing a TV version of Stephen King’s Under The Dome for Showtime. Now he returns to the medium where he made his name with Saga (Image; monthly series), a sci-fi/fantasy that explodes out of the gate with the energy of a champion racehorse. It would be premature to dub it a masterpiece. It would be stupid to bet against it becoming one. READ FULL STORY

'The Obamas' by Jodi Kantor: The EW Review

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Jodi Kantor, a New York Times correspondent, says she got the idea for The Obamas back in 2009, when she interviewed the couple in the Oval Office for a piece about their marriage. “After the article was published, I couldn’t stop thinking about the subtle tension I had felt in that room,” she writes. Although she never interviewed either the president or his wife again, she went on to talk to 33 White House staffers. The book that resulted isn’t, as advertised, about the Obamas’ marriage — not just because Kantor never spoke to them again, but also because the Obamas lead a cloistered life in Washington, going out even less than George and Laura Bush, who were famously private. The Obamas doesn’t tell us more than we already know about Barack Obama, either. It’s really a portrait of Michelle — and it’s not a kind one. READ FULL STORY

Chuck Eddy's 'Rock and Roll Always Forgets': 25 years of unique pop-music writing

I admit it: It took me a good 10 years to “get” Chuck Eddy. Reading his early pieces, mostly in The Village Voice, where music editor and ultra-talent-scout Robert Christgau showcased Eddy’s idiosyncratic ardencies (Montgomery Gentry? White Wizzard?) and a prose style that was conversational if your idea of conversation was being hectored by a good-natured obsessive, I was stumped. Eddy defeated my pride in being able to ignore the taste of a critic as long as he or she wrote well. His aesthetic seemed random, if not willfully, showily perverse.

But eventually – through sheer quality; through sheer quantity (as a once and future freelancer myself, I admire a man who churns out well-wrought sentences by the ream) – Eddy won me over. How glad I am to see the publication of Eddy’s new song(s) of himself Rock and Roll Always Forgets: A Quarter Century of Music Criticism (Duke University Press). Glad, first, because it’s truly a representative selection, tracing the slithery paths of Eddy’s enthusiasms from Marilyn Manson to Mindy McCready just to stick with the “M”s, with tart new intros that set up reprints of some of his greatest hits. And glad, second, that there exist publishers still willing to release anthologies of rock writing, since so much great rock criticism remains uncollected, neglected, less forgotten than never known to a wider audience. (Can we get a Tom Smucker book together, please? I’ll edit the damn thing myself.) READ FULL STORY

'Steve Jobs' by Walter Isaacson: EW review

After the spate of obituaries and articles, is there anything left to learn about the man who turned personal computing into a pleasure — and then a necessity — for so many of us? In a word, yes. In Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson (pictured below) — the former editor of Time who has previously written biographies of Einstein and Franklin — has given us a nuanced portrait of the brilliant, mercurial, complicated genius who rethought and reimagined computers, movies, phones, music, and tablet computers.

It isn’t always a pretty picture. The sleek, polished Apple devices that are so much a part of our lives, that we dandle so comfortably in our hands, sprang almost entirely from Jobs’ imagination — “endowed with his DNA,” as Isaacson says — and at Apple, he assembled a team that could build them. The simplicity and perfection that Jobs sought, that he demanded, came at a price, and Isaacson reveals that price in a way no one ever has before. Working for Jobs was like riding a wild, manic roller-coaster: Some days he goaded and bullied his staff into delivering better work than they thought possible. Other days he might approve an idea or innovation in a half-hour meeting (the kind of thing that would drag out for months at other companies). Then he could turn again on a dime, ignoring key staffers when gifting coveted Apple stock. His family got the same loving/cruel treatment: Until he was sued, he did not pay child support for his first child, Lisa, his daughter with girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (behavior he regretted later in life). Jobs’ wife Laurene Powell admitted to Isaacson, “There are parts of his life and personality that are extremely messy, and that’s the truth.” He punished himself, too, going on bizarre fasts, subsisting on a single food, such as carrot salad or apples, for weeks on end — even after his cancer was diagnosed. His daughter Lisa perhaps put it best when he said, “He believed that great harvests came from arid sources, pleasure from restraint.” Even on his deathbed, Jobs’ ever-fevered creativity did not flag: “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” he told Isaacson. “It would be seamlessly synced with with all your devices.”

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Image Credit: Patrice Gilbert

If occasionally workmanlike, Isaacson’s thoughtful, broadly-sourced bio is thorough, filling in all the holes in Jobs’ life, especially the years after he returned to Apple. My only quibble is a small one: Though the jacket is gorgeous (perhaps because Jobs himself had a hand in it), the book’s interior feels cheaply done, with thin paper and an unremarkable font. As I hefted it, I thought, If only it measured up to Jobs’ exacting design standards. But no matter, really. What’s important is that Isaacson has taken the complete measure of the man. This is a biography as big as Steve Jobs. A-

MORE STEVE JOBS BIOGRAPHY:
Steve Jobs: Famous folks he met and what he thought about them
Steve Jobs’ food weirdnesses: Fasts, living on apples or carrots for weeks on end, fruit smoothie diets

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