RaveThe New York Times Book Review... a wild-ride picaresque, wisecracking, funny, ambitious, full of sex and danger ... The novel is much like Tiller himself, a strangely meek yet cocky young man who tells his story with the pace of someone setting you up for a scam. It is a bold reworking of the bedroom-community novel established by John Cheever and John Updike, perhaps even a satire of it, the title a wink at both Tiller’s skipping school, John Hughes-style, and the international nature of the book, with its panoply of complex characters who make a mockery of other writers’ attempts to diversify their fictions ... As a picaresque goes, it is an intimate one.
PositiveThe New RepublicThe question [The Arrest] asks is, \'What if the people who write dystopian fiction had to then go live in a dystopia?\' That is the novel’s true premise, and if Lethem does not come up with answers, he puts forward good questions about community, and whether we are living in a simulation, and what it is like to try and rehumanize yourself around the people who ask whether we are living in a simulation, usually as a way to ignore your suffering. Lethem’s novel comments on the kind of person who reaches for this kind of novel as entertainment—the kind of person who would in fact be reading the latest dystopian fiction from Jonathan Lethem.
MixedThe New RepublicThe Silence is more of an urban, contemporary fable of horror, if the end to electronic communications is your idea of horror. It takes place at the moment of an apocalyptic event, when the exact shape of the disaster is still unclear ... Deceptively simple, the plot is a framework for conversations while something we cannot quite see destroys civilization. The apocalypse such as it is feels off-kilter, as I suppose it would... To say The Silence is not the novel it should be is to engage in a kind of existential wishful thinking. Is the novel oracular if the novel’s events begin to occur while you are reading it? ... it is clear that The Silence doesn’t mean to satisfy anything—it means to be uncomfortable.
RaveBookforumGlück’s story about Margery takes her visions and unfolds them, with an immediacy and an erotic power and scale reminiscent of Giorgio Vasari’s stunning mural on the inside of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence. It is like falling upward into a long dream about sex and Jesus, in Glück’s hands a spectacle, visceral and sublime ... The two narratives become one, feed each other, much in the way lovers feel they are made possible by the presence of a beloved ... By the end, Margery Kempe felt to me like a mingling of Vita Sackville-West’s biography of Joan of Arc and the sort of pulp gay erotic fiction I found in porn stores in the 1980s—the illustrated covers feathery from years of being held, read, and put down—and yet also somehow firmly within the tradition of any mural on any church or cathedral in Florence. If it’s sacrilege to imagine Jesus as an object of desire, as the first Margery Kempe did, then Glück’s novel has a great deal of company, in both the past and the present.
PositiveLos Angeles TimesThe chapters are full of named sections, lists of what makes up his life in Provincetown: Haven, Movie, Pilgrim, Foglifter, Wally, Imposter Syndrome. This pointillistic style allows Lisicky to build his story impressionistically. There are no surprises in the general plot, per se: Lisicky becomes the published writer and openly gay man we’ve come to know. But the \'how\' of it fascinates ... He especially captures the fear I’d almost forgotten—the intensity with which we as gay men so often feared one another ...This memoir is much like his Provincetown, exulting in tenderness and lust, lit with flashes of poignant spectacle, even the majestic—the way a drag queen at night can become, in sequins under a spotlight, full of the fire and beauty we associate with goddesses, before descending back to the realm of the human.
RaveLos Angeles Times[A] fascinating biography ... This all could as easily have been presented by Moser as a reason to shame Sontag, but in his hands it becomes a story about the shame and what she was trying to hide ... He sees in what she sought to hide the emotional truth of fiction — about her sexuality and also Mann’s. This complex sense of Sontag as a writer, made from who she was to herself and others, over time, strikes me as Moser’s real subject and the project of the larger book ... The resulting details are stunning in number and quality ... Moser’s Sontag is someone he works to understand as both a girl forever in love with her beautiful, alcoholic, widow mother and a woman who regularly castigated herself for not already being who she wanted to be, as if her ambition made a liar of her ... something of an intellectual and political history of the 20th century United States. And it is animated by some of its most historically significant gossip ... The book’s cover copy calls it \'a Great American novel in the form of a biography,\' and if so, it is one Sontag never dared to write, ironically visible only in this story of her life.
PositiveTime\"The challenge for Rush is compelling us to follow the events of that era that feel like familiar standards–the sacrament of dropping acid the first time, for example, is something we feel we know as well as our own memories, even if we’ve never done it. But he breaks through when he reveals that both his drug-fueled adventures and his relationship with his sexuality are really about the way he left the church but never abandoned his search for an experience of the divine that might replace it. This other story, filled with sentences lit from the inside like his paintings, allows Rush to \'make it new\'–any artist’s imperative–in telling us the story of his life.\
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewFor the first 25 pages, Patrick Nathan’s debut novel, Some Hell, poses as a conventional coming-of-age tale set in the American suburbs about a young boy struggling with his sexuality. Then it peels that mask off like a replicant to reveal the more sinister creature underneath ... The result is a very different literary thriller, one in which the mystery is not who killed the victim, but how those who kill might live with what they’ve done. And as mother and son head off to their own separate apocalypses, made from their very different complicities, Some Hell becomes a canny and terrifying moral fable about our new and old American ways of both being together and missing each other.
RaveNPRHis sequel, The Magician King, catches up with our wizard prodigies, now ruling as the kings and queens of Fillory, their reward for rescuing it. The novel begins in ways that parallel The Magicians... It's a classic comedic pratfall but also a pure Aristotelian peripeteia. It's pure Grossman, as well, a moment full of mixed longing, schadenfreude, wit and suspense ...novel's structure is the bravura performance, with the quest in the present crosscut regularly by flashback chapters from Julia's past, the two timelines intersecting at the climax ...a spellbinding stereograph, a literary adventure novel that is also about privilege, power and the limits of being human. The Magician King is a triumphant sequel, surpassing, I think, the original.
Elena Ferrante, Trans. by Ann Goldstein
PositiveThe New Republic\"In Frantumaglia, Ferrante seems to anticipate her own discovery: The book is like a mask hidden beneath a mask, ready to be displayed when the first one is torn off ... [it] is Ferrante for the Ferranteans, her readers who have long enjoyed the puzzle over her work and her self without ever needing it solved ... Many of these recent interviews are a pleasure to read—Ferrante’s professorial side is less didactic, more relaxed ... In Frantumaglia, Ferrante asserts the most fundamental and important truth of who she is: that she is someone who will do only as she will, and nothing else.\
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesAt times when I put the novel down, it felt like the result of a bet — I could imagine Lethem in a glamorous locale like one of those mentioned here, maybe the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, a Scotch in hand, saying, I bet you I can make a novel about anything to a mysterious figure hidden in shadow ... In the end, it is a novel about the loneliness of life in a world made to serve only the richest, one that leaves the rest of us to make what deals we can to survive.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMustering a story writer’s kinetic intensity, the novel seems distracting at first as it switches, chapter by chapter, among the characters, but the spare structure gains strength from their very different voices ... a compelling vision of both North and South Korea.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn many ways this memoir’s real theme is fame: the way a hunger for it or a proximity to it can consume and even ruin a writer’s life, as well as the very specific ways that famous writers shaped Gess’s and Lisicky’s lives and their friendship.
PanThe New RepublicBy the end...it felt as if [Moody] was in the grip of his device. I wanted the novel to rise out of the banks created by the hotel reviews; I wanted Morse to emerge as well, which he does at times.
PanThe Los Angeles TimesI know it feels like a tribute to publish a writer's last, unfinished work — but Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise ultimately does justice neither to its author nor to his heroes, much less his readers.