Only Love Can Break Your Heart

David Samuels, Author New Press $25.95 (370p) ISBN 978-1-59558-187-7

In this collection of previously published stories by Harper’s contributing editor Samuels, he claims “writing for magazines is like playing sports.” Whatever the journalistic game—Samuels’s subjects range from Woodstock 1999 to a Goodyear blimp pilot, among others, plus a few personal essays—Samuels is a solid player who sometimes hits home runs. “Every building begins as a dream,” he states in “Bringing Down the House,” a profile of a demolition company, but “[d]estroying a building... [is] a slow, almost biblical reckoning.” Behind the scenes at such places as the Sedan Crater nuclear test site; the antiglobalization Mecca of Eugene, Ore.; and Super Bowl XL with Stevie Wonder, Samuels’s reportage is at its best. He wryly flays false constructions of American reality on the right, left and places in between. “Ideologically, what Chad Sweet has in common with his newfound friends in the Republican Party is that nothing he says makes any sense,” Samuels writes about a new Republican at a $2,000-a-plate Bush-Cheney ’04 fund-raising party. Samuels could give a little Bush-bashing wink here; instead he observes that “politics isn’t about coherence anymore.” Neither is much of life in our “Golden Land of Mini-Moos,” according to Samuels, who captures this “free floating weirdness” with clarity. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-1-58243-503-9
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