PositiveBookforumPropelled by lyrical prose that flouts the conventions of grammar and style, it’s a sports novel that’s also a thriller and an existential horror story, though it doesn’t blend genres so much as cycle through them in succession...The results are disorienting, and often thrilling...This style of impressionistic prose doesn’t illuminate Nineteen’s inner life so much as offer a sense of what it feels like at the center of the huddle...Compounding Nineteen’s sizable array of problems, his football days have left him with \'yellow patches of dead and dying tissue where blood vessels had bruised themselves against the brain case\'...In layman’s terms, he’s got CTE, the neurodegenerative disease that afflicts NFL players at an alarmingly high rate...Marten’s a gifted stylist, and if anything holds Pure Life together, it’s his consistently exciting prose...And while at times I wondered if the book might benefit from a heavier editorial hand, I’m ultimately convinced that—as in the cases of Poe, Melville, and James, not to mention Woolf, Bellow, and Faulkner—its nebulous shape affords Marten the room to rev up to rhapsodic peaks.
PanBookforum\"If Lin’s earlier books felt voiced by a human resigned to becoming an automaton, then this one speaks in a voice of resistance, albeit a deluded one ... The generous read is that Lin’s poking fun at the half-baked ontological musings of a dude who’s taken way too much acid. But my sense is that Lin expects readers to give Li’s theory of the \'overmind\' serious consideration ... For this kind of novel to work, however, the tensions usually generated by plot must be replaced by internal ones, and the novel’s ideas must be stimulating enough to sustain a reader’s interest. Unfortunately, here, there’s nothing to push up against Li’s zealotry, or to suggest that his druggy epiphanies are anything but profound ... By the end of the novel, Li has fallen in love with Kay ... I’m happy for them, though less so for Lin’s readers. At one point earlier on, Li concludes that conflict isn’t \'necessary for art.\' Leave Society suggests he might reconsider.
Mixed4Columns\'I don’t want you to rehabilitate me. Just make me interesting,\' reads The Biography’s epigraph, a directive from subject to biographer. Roth died in 2018, leaving Bailey to interpret the mandate as he saw fit. Whether you think he succeeded will depend on your interest in Roth’s oeuvre. It’s not that Roth led a mundane existence—despite reclusive tendencies, he found plenty of time for affairs and feuds, all rehashed here with Boswellian élan—but because he so overtly mined his life for his fiction, the salacious details become more than tabloid fodder in the context of the work ... For Roth devotees, there’s a certain satisfaction in the revelations offered ... Bailey’s interpretation of \'interesting\' begins to feel suspect as The Biography wears on ... readers of The Biography would be forgiven for thinking that the prolific author spent most of his prime, not honing his craft, but alternately seducing young women and quibbling with publicists over jacket copy ... though Bailey is quick to make clear that Roth remained friendly with most of his girlfriends, and was even a \'de facto\' grandfather to some of their kids, I doubt anyone will come away from The Biography thinking: Philip Roth, a paragon of virtue! ... Bailey’s hefty doorstopper is intended to convince us that here lived a giant, his every piss and polyp a matter of import. I understand the impulse. In a literary culture increasingly suspicious of irony, moral ambiguity, and \'unlikeable\' characters, Roth’s work feels in danger of fading away. Still, if a case is to be made for his genius, the novels are a better place to start.
PositiveBookforumMost readers, I’d imagine, will politely pass, siding with my friend who suggested that Lutz’s work would be improved by its translation into English. But a passionate few—those of us known to recite his sentences as if they were song lyrics—will find cause to rejoice ... Taken as a whole, the volume offers less an illustration of authorial evolution than one of remarkable artistic consistency...Which is to say: Lutz emerged fully formed, style-markers and preoccupations intact ... For a writer like Lutz, the omnibus is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, one can’t help but feel awe at the sheer quantity of pristinely ornamented sentences collected here. On the other, these stories are not meant for rapid consumption ... Further, one gets worn down by the relentless bleakness of Lutz’s worldview and the tonal homogeneity of his stories.
RaveBook ForumTrying to capture the experience of a character on the brink of insanity is daring and rarely successful. When it works—think William Burroughs at his best—readers must be able to encounter the narrator’s skewed psychology without becoming lost amid the hallucinatory logic. The Orange Eats Creeps performs this tricky balancing act, which partly explains how Krilanovich can inhabit a ludicrous plot (hobo vampires?) without tumbling into horror kitsch. She nails the shaky worldview of a supernatural teen narco-insomniac who drifts in and out of dreams as fluidly as she drifts in and out of sexual encounters ... This novel immerses the reader in the warped perspective of its protagonist without ever quite sacrificing sense ... Vampirism is a well-worn horror trope, but Krilanovich finds unique things to say with it.
Mixed4 Columns... [Ives] has a fondness for wordplay, and moves between registers to comic effect ... Some of this is very funny, but at times Ives’s targets feel like low-hanging fruit ... the reader doesn’t quite fall beneath Loudermilk’s spell. Perhaps this is the point—Loudermilk is a cipher—but it’s hard to get invested in so vacuous a hero ... Ives’s novel is meta-textual, sprinkled with the poems and stories that its characters turn in for class...what we’re presented with in Loudermilk resists easy interpretation ... When we can’t trust the gatekeepers to tell us what to think, we’re left only with our own unreliable subjectivity.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewTaken together, these anecdotes paint a picture of combat-zone parenthood that goes beyond politics while reinforcing the imperative need for lasting peace. Fatherhood is not the only subject of interest. We have ruminations on everything from delayed flights to telemarketers. Some of it is profound, much of it less so ... Keret has a tendency toward reductive summation and his explorations often cutely resolve before they have a chance to get going. The nonfictional Keret is gentler than his fictional self; instead of an angry young man we get a defanged father ... at fewer than 200 pages, the book is too slim to comprise so much filler. Keret is best when he sticks to family, and particularly the subject of his father, a Holocaust survivor. Keret risks sentimentality recklessly and often. When it works, the payoff is powerful: a palpable urgency of emotion.