President Roth’s Book Reviews Published in Washington Post, L.A. Times

Michael Roth

Two book reviews by President Michael Roth recently were published in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

For the Post on Dec. 28Roth reviewed Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, a “graceful and informative” study of hallucinations caused by “neurological misfirings that can be traced to disease, drugs or various changes in neurochemistry.” Drawing upon descriptions of hallucinations experienced with Parkinsonian disorders, epilepsy, migraines, and narcolepsy, “Sacks explores the surprising ways in which our brains call up simulated realities that are almost indistinguishable from normal perceptions,” Roth writes. He adds: “As is usually the case with the good doctor Sacks, we are prescribed no overarching theory or even a central argument to unite his various observations. Instead, we are the beneficiaries of his keen observational sense, deep clinical practice and wide-ranging reading in the history of neurology. This doctor cares deeply about his patients’ experiences—about their lives, not just their diseases. Through his accounts we can imagine what it is like to find that our perceptions don’t hook on to reality—that our brains are constructing a world  that nobody else can see, hear or touch.”

In the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 28Roth reviewed Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars by Camille Paglia. The book, which contains brief discussions of 29 works of visual art, seeks to help readers “find focus” amid the “torrential stream of flickering images.” Roth writes: “Paglia’s goal is straightforward: By offering images of great artworks and helping us to give them sustained attention, she hopes that readers will ‘relearn how to see’ with sustained pleasure and insight. Protesting against the intense animosity toward the arts she sees in American popular culture, Paglia wants her readers to recognize the deep feeling, craft and originality that went into the works she has chosen.”