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It’s not a sequel to Jaws or Moby-Dick, as the title may lead you to believe, but Rich Cohen’s life of banana tycoon Samuel Zemurray is beach reading par excellence. The Fish That Ate the Whale charts Zemurray’s rise from humble immigrant fruit peddler to head of the United Fruit Company – and then his slide into disillusioned old age. Along the way, there’s backstabbing, bribery, alliances of convenience . . . and, oh yes, a Latin American coup or two. Cohen makes Zemurray’s story equally inspirational and cautionary, delivering a page-turning, sometimes troubling meditation on the American dream and its price. My favorite anecdote: banana merchants giving the fruit to Ellis Island immigrants as they landed to welcome them to America.
Speaking of Hollywood, Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Chair of the Film/Video Department at Stevenson University (and, full disclosure, my good friend and the impresario of my book club) just blogged about his disappointment with the film version of The Hunger Games, and what the weak adaptation says about the Hollywood machine.
I’m a longtime Bruce Wagner fan, and I immensely enjoyed his no-holds-barred, verging-on-insane latest Hollywood opus, Dead Stars. So did Sam Sacks, of The Wall Street Journal. I disagree with the comparison to Rabelais (who I’d say is earthier and more optimistic), but otherwise I think the review is spot-on, especially this passage:
We’re honored to have been named Best Bookstore in Baltimore Magazine’s Best of Baltimore 2012 issue. Check out this promotional video for the issue, shot in The Ivy’s aisles. And be sure to pick up the print issue, which features our own Lucy Burchell as a model.