Short Takes

Short Takes: Book reviews, in brief

February 2, 2013 

Fiction

Cover of Snow

Jenny Milchman, Random House, 336 pages

Jenny Milchman’s debut novel, “Cover of Snow,” intimately examines the life of a woman following the death of her husband. Nora Hamilton wakes up after a night of passion and reconciliation to discover her husband, Brendan, hanging from a rope. Nora doesn’t believe he took his own life.

All Nora wants are the answers to why Brendan died. The first-person account told from Nora’s point of view thrusts the narrative into horror, sadness and every other emotion Nora experiences as she must start over without Brendan. It’s really not much of a surprise when the answers to Brendan’s death are revealed. But what makes “Cover of Snow” sing is Milchman’s ability to make readers care for Nora as she suffers and starts anew. How well do we know our loved ones, and how will we cope when they’re gone? These uncomfortable questions propel Nora’s story.

Associated Press

Nonfiction

The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America

Joe Nick Patoski, Little, Brown, 816 pages

Joe Nick Patoski opens “The Dallas Cowboys” by noting that everything’s bigger in Texas. That may explain why his history of America’s Team runs to more than 800 pages.

Patoski offers the origins of the team; its place in the geography of Dallas (“a city with no reason to exist”); the colorful crowds at the Cotton Bowl, then Texas Stadium and, finally Cowboys Stadium (“a showcase of technological wonders” and “an energy hog”); the cheerleaders and the parade of great characters such as Clint Murchison Jr., Tom Landry, Tex Schramm, Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells.

There’s something about the Cowboys that defines Dallas, and something about Dallas that defines the Cowboys. “The swagger had never left,” Patoski writes of the team, “even if their record no longer justified the confident arrogance that defined Dallas the team and Dallas the people.”

Bloomberg News

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