PositiveThe New York TimesA flow chart would be handy to keep track of all the overlapping relationships, career changes and ethnicities here ... Suffused with nihilism: a sense of a society nearing its end ... Taylor has written a bleak book with flashes of beauty, circling a hothouse of young people on the brink of transplantation into the harsh outside world. His ear for dialogue is exquisitely sensitive. Even if he calls it a novel, I hope he’s working on a play.
PanThe New York TimesA loving homage ... Charm abounds — again, this is Tom Hanks — but Masterpiece is too often a maddeningly excursive endeavor ... Sometimes Masterpiece reads like the thank-you speech Hanks, consummate nice guy, would give if granted unlimited time at the Oscars. You might admire its rah-rah spirit, yet still want to press fast-forward.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMessy, confessional but ultimately beneficent ... This is a rough-cut book, not a polished gem... but I can see it becoming a rock for people who’ve been troubled by suicidal ideation, or have someone in their lives who is, and want to understand the mentality, which can seem utterly mystifying to the unafflicted.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWhat saves Ex-Wife from utter maudlin despair is the same formula that has made 50 similarly themed TV shows hits. One is its tender depiction of female friendship, even in the face of rivalry ... The other thing that glows in Ex-Wife... is New York City: the lights, the fights, the freedoms, constraints and terrible costs.
RaveThe New York TimesIts 18 chapters are organized well, into the different roles Gönner played throughout his life, a table of contents that reads like a John le Carré collage ... His subject matter is sensitive, but his sensuality remains intact ... The author conveys an Indiana Jones-ish thrill ... Bilger is understandably preoccupied with titrating Gönner’s cloudy complicity in a regime of pure evil, a task that — to someone outside the family circle — may not seem particularly urgent or even possible to finish. But with all its diligence, Fatherland maintains the momentum of the best mysteries and a commendable balance.
RaveThe New York TimesRemarkable ... Rosen’s own memoir is the opposite of ruinous. It’s an inch-by-inch, pin-you-to-the-sofa reconstruction of his long friendship with Michael Laudor ... Rosen cannot release Laudor, but he has rehabilitated and rehumanized him on the page while honoring his victim. The Best Minds is too a thoughtfully built, deeply sourced indictment of a society that prioritizes profit, quick fixes and happy endings over the long slog of care ... Brave and nuanced.
PositiveThe New York Times\"Monsters sustains an essayistic, sometimes aphoristic tone throughout 250-odd pages. Dotted with details of her particular milieu — the ferryboat, the crepe shop, the rock show that leaves glitter in the eyelashes — Monsters is part memoir, part treatise and all treat. Dederer is continually trying — not in the adjectival sense, but as the present participle: showing us her thought process, correcting as she goes and experimenting with different forms ... Her exquisitely reasoned vindication of Lolita brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. But I also found myself disagreeing with or questioning a lot, resisting her sweeping \'we\' ...For an author who rightly shudders over the cheapening of the word \'obsessed\' to use the phrases \'make work\' — the new \'make love\'? — and \'late capitalism\' leaves me feeling, as Dederer would herself put it, \'a little urpy.\' But, but … this is a book that looks boldly down the cliff at the roiling waters below and jumps right in, splashes around playfully, isn’t afraid to get wet. How refreshing.\
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewIn an afterword, McDonell says that the book was originally \'going to be about me\' — and it really still is, though you can feel him continually trying to steer it back to Irma, like a car that’s out of alignment ... In the second [part] McDonell, who came of age in the era of New Journalism, makes the very New Journalistic choice to swerve into the third person. It’s hard to know what to make of this ... What we have here is McDonell’s soft underbelly — therapist visits, journaling with colored pens, worrying about Alzheimer’s disease — and I am loath to poke it too much.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewWondrous and strange ... What we learn about this unnamed narrator... is delightful in its specificity ... The main pleasure of Y/N is not so much its somewhat skeletal plot, which floats in and out of surreality like an adult Phantom Tollbooth, as its corkscrew turns of language ... In its clever compactness, Y/N resists the junkiness of the internet where they reside, the fanfics and the livestreams and endless comments.
PositiveThe New York TimesWhen Nancy Schoenberger...announced early in her new book, Blanche, that she planned to include a few sonnets written from the perspective of DuBois’s ill-fated, unseen young husband, as well as a hypothetical obituary in The Times-Picayune describing how her subject turned her life around after psychiatric treatment, I … yes, blanched ... Messing with another writer’s characters tends to be tricky business ... Schoenberger...has now written a lean but graceful character study of DuBois, giving Williams’s most indelible but also frequently misunderstood character her due ... She...relies heavily, though with a light touch, on previously published material, of which there is no shortage. Talking to a journalist about playing DuBois can resemble a particularly wrenching therapy session ... I’m not sure Blanche, which can waft and flit like the butterfly-like creature it chronicles, will satisfy true Williams junkies. But if you’re unfamiliar with this great American classic, or have perhaps let high-school memories of it lapse, this book is a hell of a gateway drug.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewI finished it persuaded this was a life well worth examining, if only because his peers are so often celebrated, or excoriated, in aggregate ... Seligman’s own stance is mostly one of wary wonderment, that drag queens have gone from \'totally beyond the pale\' to mainstream acknowledgment ... He piles a lot of historical weight on Fish’s shoulders, but his subject carries it like Joan Crawford in a padded Adrian frock.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewVery few of the many people Middleton interviewed, famous and not, have anything bad to say about [Chanel\'s] resurrector ... He’s a rich subject, in all senses of the word, but occupied an increasingly corporatized world that can make for stretches of arid reading ... If you have an appetite for Lagerfeld lore, Paradise Now will sate it and then some. But you must submit, like a child, to a candyland of escapist excess.
PositiveThe New York TimesWhat starts out with a slight vibe of The Secret History, Donna Tartt’s sinister novel about a privileged college clique...progresses into something more like Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie ... Reductive though this may sound, We Should Not Be Friends is an object lesson in the difference between male and female communication styles ... We Should Not Be Friends is a mild but often moving book, watered with a few perhaps inevitable bromides about \'sharing\' and personal \'journeys\' — but also salted with Schwalbe’s well-established literary intelligence and a palpable empathy. I don’t know if Schwalbe fully let his guard down, but — swimming with stingrays, learning to breathe deeply — he stepped out of his comfort zone, and for this: applause.
RaveThe New York TimesA nostalgic new showbiz novel ... Well-researched ... An unqualified success ... Up With the Sun raises the drapes on a weird corner of this past, rousing and rummaging through. We’re left rubbing our eyes.
V (formerly Eve Ensler)
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewFor those familiar with Ensler’s work, much of Reckoning will feel like a jagged replay of her core stories; amply represented are transcripts of speeches she’s delivered at the conferences and forums where she’s become an honored guest, or pieces previously published ... the jump-cut style she’s refined for decades is actually perfectly suited to people who get their news from TikTok, and her rhythmic singling out of particular words... presaged hashtag activism ... Reckoning is, if not a failure, kind of a bloody mess, but defiantly, provocatively, maybe intentionally so. It exhorts readers to confront the worst and ugliest, pleads for progress and peace, and provokes admiration for its resilient, activist author.
PositiveThe New York TimesThere are so many bars, squiggles, arrows, circles, dots, numbers and pictograms within these pages — 128 charts in total — that poring over them might make that hypothetical word person feel a little cross-eyed and frantic ... You get the feeling Bump could diagram even a marital spat ... He is trying to debunk closely held beliefs about the boomers as a voting, spending and ideological bloc ... Dividing populations into age blocs is of limited utility, except for pollsters and planners — the young boomers needed more schools, and soon they’ll need more eldercare — but also a source of entertainment, a great American pastime like any other typology.
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex
MixedThe New York TimesI expected to enjoy Spare, given that it was written with the help of the talented author J.R. Moehringer ... And I did. In parts ... Like its author, Spare is all over the map — emotionally as well as physically. He does not, in other words, keep it tight ... The prince claims to have a spotty memory...but doesn’t appear to have forgotten a single line ever printed about him and his wife, and the last section of his tell-all degenerates into a tiresome back-and-forth about who’s leaking what and why.
MixedThe New York TimesElegant but somewhat glancing ... Roald Dahl...may simply be too big to cancel ... Dennison recaps most of these extraordinary events without fuss, riffling carefully through letters, diaries and other volumes, from the looks of his endnotes, but conducting no fresh interviews; there are no new revelations that I can discern, but instead refined interpretation ... In Dennison’s telling, Dahl’s contradictions are beautifully illustrated but not particularly interrogated ... I think [Dahl] would have liked Dennison’s writing style, lush but clipped, with such phrases as \'the ubiquity of caprice\' and \'buoyant with slang,\' full of a reader’s zest. This is not a potted biography, but it is a politely pruned one, idealism washing over the ick.
Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair
PositiveThe New York TimesA devoted document dump, assembled from diaries, court papers and reporting fresh and reconstituted ... The man himself was not interviewed for this project...but gave the thumbs-up to other sources. The result is aptly patchwork ... But it’s deft patchwork, the seams between old and new tucked away in the neat drawer of its index ... Trivia, the coin of the realm in pop culture writing, is spilled here in abundance. Lots of it feels relevant or at least redolent ... There will be thousands more pages written about Paul McCartney, and yet, he seems to be taunting, we will never catch him.
RaveThe New York TimesA lovely and scrupulous biography ... [Clements] absents himself entirely from the narrative, as if to counterweight his subject’s fondness for the first person, which magic-carpeted her right into the bloggy internet era, and pitches a generous tent for her ambiguities and contradictions — even her self-centeredness ... Any intriguing domestic snapshots in Jan Morris: Life From Both Sides...are crowded out by the constantly whirling carousel of her adventures. She ranged so widely and richly that questions about a certain looseness with facts, or whether her prose style changed after transition, seem almost beside the point ... This biography is a boon companion to Morris’s sprawling oeuvre, even if her complex psyche, like her physicality, might be impossible to corral.
Marguerite Duras, trans. by Emma Ramadan and Olivia Baes
PositiveThe New York TimesThe Easy Life is itself too short, too seeded with early indicators of its complicated author’s talent, to risk boredom. It crams in three dramatic deaths ... The translation, by Emma Ramadan and Olivia Baes, flows smoothly ... Duras, though her prose is spare and concentrated, is practically an avatar of French existential difficulty ... This is a minor work, in a minor key, that might be of interest only to Duras completists but for its overlaps with other recent chronicles of young womanhood ... Love, worry, numbness, confusion and urgency about when and how \'real\' life begins.
MixedThe New York TimesMoan-ifesto about the particular woes of quarantine for an upper-middle-class parent of young children ... I would call [Sax\'s] new one \'OK,\' \'perfectly fine\' and \'not a complete waste of your time\' ... The author can’t help sounding a little whiny ... The book is not entirely without adventure ... The trouble is that here in the fall of 2022, when most Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, the revelation that such simple activities warm a digitally chilled soul feels as stale as our sourdough loaves. And some of Sax’s precepts, novel under our shared duress, now seem obvious or under-interrogated ... The Future Is Analog might have been better as that old-new phenomenon, a podcast. A brand extension writ antsy, it also seems to have suffered from an automated spellchecker.
MixedThe New York TimesThe best known and most accessible, if not the foremost, biographer of England’s royal family ... It feels rushed and undernourished ... Morton can be droll and dry ... All but the most uninformed readers are in for quite a bit of recapitulation, often of facts that are already canonical ... The Queen isn’t terrible; it’s just terribly serviceable ... Some odd or unnecessary anachronisms and Americanizations leap out ... These might be minor traffic violations if The Queen weren’t overall such a clip job — deft and confident, but a clip job nonetheless ... A perfectly satisfactory primer. But if you’re a buff of the royal soap opera, it will feel like standing at a party having to nod and grin politely while your husband, maybe after a few too many Pimm’s cups, tells one of his favorite tales, that you’ve heard a million times, too fast, to strangers.
PositiveThe New York TimesThis sharp sliver of true crime spotlights Ann Woodward ... In reciting all this plainly, I am perhaps mirroring the straightforward style of Montillo, a research librarian and author of several works on nonfiction, who takes a coolly detached \'just the facts, ma’am\' approach to this sordid series of events ... Not quite \'the murder of the century,\' as Montillo’s title proposes, but a vertiginous spiral of social death.
RaveThe New York TimesAmusing and assertive ... There was not an obvious need for such a book ... The author seems to have undergone the task for the sheer love of it, and his delight is infectious ... You may not be bonkers for ballet, as the author is, but Diaghilev’s Empire will help you comprehend its allure and — unprimly, with whimsy — the enterprising mogul who made people begin to take it seriously.
MixedThe New York TimesIt would hardly be an Irving novel if it weren’t stuffed — sometimes overstuffed ... A tough old-fashioned bildungsroman that meanders more than it moves, with its creator’s customary herks, jerks, digressions and Rabelaisian excesses ... We also get an amusing taxonomy of film noir that includes creepy noir, caper noir, gunfighter noir, porno noir ... His latest will certainly keep you occupied, if intermittently lulled and grossed out ... This sustained sojourn can feel like an unrelenting avalanche of words from which one emerges blinking and dazed — a book to be not so much read as survived ... Preachy and tauntingly bawdy in patches, The Last Chairlift does have pleasurable stretches, when the air is clear and the terrain smooth. But unless you’re an Irving superfan craving a big summing-up, the novel’s muchness might simply suffocate.
Charlotte Van Den Broeck, trans. by David McKay
PositiveNew York TimesBeguiling ... The author can stubbornly cling to her thesis, morbidly romanticizing like that goth friend in high school with a penchant for the Cure ... I have no idea where this book, translated gracefully from the Dutch by David McKay, will land in the Dewey Decimal System. The suicidal-architect conceit turns out to be something of a facade for a blend of memoir, travelogue and philosophical tract ... A strain of rumination runs through all her investigations ... In our moment of \'quiet quitting,\' resistance to corporate domination and a conviction that capitalism is in decay, Bold Ventures does arrive as a timely interrogation of what, exactly, constitutes success — of how to live ... Her tiered confection is a small marvel: a monument to human beings continuing to reach for the skies, even after their plans dissolve in dust.
MixedNew York TimesHaving bushwhacked through Wild, a not-overlong book packed with history, literature, gossip and a smattering of environmental science, I think Beard’s estimation of himself as being in the same league as one of the great masters of the 20th century [Pablo Picasso] seems premature at best, overblown at worst ... Perhaps because of copyright issues, Wild shows only a few items from his immense catalog, at a distance. But it also suggests the old cliché, that the man’s greatest work of art was himself ... You start to sympathize with that angry elephant who crushed his pelvis and ruptured his spleen ... The next-level enablement of Peter Beard...is one of this book’s great unsolved mysteries ... Affectionate and a little bemused, with plenty of recent interviews hot off the tape, Wild is fresh meat, sometimes delectable, sometimes hard to chew. Unclear how it will age.
PositiveThe New York TimesTaking up toy weapons and disdainful of marriage plots, Cristabel is outlined in the endearing if slightly stock shape of unconventional heroine ... Shimmeringly if sometimes a little preciously, Quinn depicts the strange, resourceful magic that can be conjured by a cluster of children when they’re neglected by selfish adults ... On atmospherics, The Whalebone Theatre is absolute aces, to borrow the patois of the Americans who drop in for cultural contrast, new-moneyed and loud. Reading it is like plunging into a tub of clotted cream while (or whilst) enrobed in silk eau-de-Nil beach pajamas. You’ll immediately want to change your font to Garamond and start saying things like \'Toodle-pip, darlings!\' The weather, whether misty or stormy, dappling sunshine or \'moonlight falling through the window like an invitation,\' is consistently impressive ... Quinn is an energetic narrative seamstress. Into her giant tapestry she stitches in letters, lists, scrapbook entries, dramatic dialogue, Maudie’s sexually adventuresome diary entries and the occasional piece of concrete poetry. All of this is lovely and unforced ... The novel begins to veer off the rails, however, when a grown Cristabel, becomes a secret agent, wrestling down an SS officer with the sudden physical dexterity of Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith ... Gorgeous and a little breathless, with luscious food scenes from beginning to end — enough cake and pudding for a thousand Carvels — The Whalebone Theatre could have been tighter corseted. But Quinn’s imagination and adventuresome spirit are a pleasure to behold, boding more commanding work to come.
Jann S. Wenner
MixedNew York TimesThe literary equivalent of a diss track: a retort to Joe Hagan’s biography, Sticky Fingers, which was published five years ago, after Wenner’s initial cooperation curdled into public repudiation ... [An] overwhelmingly male tale ... He continues to bathe the Beatles in white light here, glossing over the harm to their friendship caused by his publishing the acidic interview \'Lennon Remembers\' in book form, and the magazine’s partisan mistreatment of Paul McCartney’s brilliant early solo efforts ... Like a Rolling Stone does gather moss, it turns out: celebrities in damp clumps ... He writes here in crisp sentences more descriptive than introspective, giving résumés for even minor characters ... Though his journalists regularly championed the downtrodden, Wenner proudly recounts a life of unbridled hedonism, and seems disinclined to reconcile any contradiction ... Like a Rolling Stone is entertaining in spades but only sporadically revealing of the uneven ground beneath Wenner’s feet. Long sections of the book read like a private-flight manifest or gala concert set list. You, the common reader, are getting only a partial-access pass.
MixedThe New York TimesEdited with obvious affection by her longtime assistant, Everett Bexley, this book seems intended as a toast to Reed, a beloved bon vivant and contributor to many publications, most recently Garden & Gun, where her reputation as the Nora Ephron of the South was cemented with a column, blog posts and podcasts delivered in her Scotch-soaked voice...But sadly, \'Dispatches From the Gilded Age\' is only funny in patches, and goes on quite a bit longer than necessary...It’s less like a toast and more like one of those beribboned, overstuffed goody bags that get handed out at the end of certain parties (not Reed’s, where the only thing you walked away with, judging by her advice on hostessing, was the promise of a major hangover)...You’re pleased to get the bag, and there might be a thing or two in there you want, but there’s also plenty that you’re going to crumple up and throw away.
RaveThe New York Times... endearingly nerdy ... A historian who has also studied computational mathematics, [Bouk] believes passionately in the ideals of the census, but reveals in often head-smacking detail how badly it has failed society ... Though he specializes in bureaucracies and quantification, Bouk himself has a poet’s flair for wordplay ... Bouk concerned about the whole operation’s future, but this is a man of buoyant optimism. The book’s straightforward title undersells its playful contents. Democracy’s Data is ruminative and rich; it makes the dull old census a feast for the senses.
Alice Sedgwick Wohl
PositiveNew York TimesBeautiful, if not exactly joyful ... Wohl adds sensitive shading and texture to the group portrait of the Sedgwicks that emerged in Edie — and a spray of light ... As It Turns Out affords opportunity for Wohl, with the perspective of decades, to walk back some of the comments she made to Stein about [Warhol], to acknowledge his creative and emotional breadth and his prescience ... Wohl has maintained what seems a cool remove from this difficult sister, learning her precise birth date from a 2015 Vogue article and expressing surprise that the magazine was still celebrating Edie. A few of her passages land as stubbornly, perhaps self-protectively, naïve.
PositiveThe New York TimesLanger is as good a prop master as the one for Netflix’s Stranger Things, judiciously peppering his pages with relics from the past like Styrofoam containers from McDonald’s, Walkmans, overcooked lamb chops and references to Mariel Hemingway. Though The Breakfast Club came a little later, Gen Xers might also flash on that movie’s stereotyped teenagers locked in detention: Here, too, we have a jock, a pretty princess and a few troubled misfits ... Keeping track of who’s who in Cyclorama, and who’s playing whom onstage in The Diary of Anne Frank, can get a little homework-y ... have this year’s novelists all gotten a memo from their editors to include a scene of police brutality or racism? ... But Langer’s flip forward to 2016 is the literary equivalent of a Mary Lou Retton tumbling pass ... a scrim of slapstick something far more haunting and serious.
Hilary A Hallett
PositiveThe New York Times... restores her to the pantheon of history with great thoughtfulness and taste. But like a too-tight flapper headband, the title doesn’t quite fit. For one thing, Glyn, a British aristo (who also advised Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino), and Bow, who was from Brooklyn, don’t meet until well into the book’s third section, when both are storming early Hollywood. For another, Glyn’s concept of \'it,\' developed during a long career writing transgressive romance novels and having affairs with various lords, featured a powerful middle-aged man, not an on-the-verge ingénue ... Hallett spent a heroic decade-plus wandering and mapping these trails, and though there are moments in Inventing the It Girl that are florid and over-rounded, this tone suits the topic. Her copious endnotes made me want to put on a peignoir, strike my forehead dramatically and fall in a dead faint on a chaise longue — all gestures probably owed to Elinor Glyn.
George Dawes Green
PositiveNew York TimesThe Kingdoms of Savannah doesn’t read as sweaty or overworked: It’s layered, but like a parfait goes down sweet, chilled and easy. Saturated in regional detail and studded with oddballs, it has the flavor of Southern Gothic without the bitter aftertaste ... Green wants to hammer home that undergirding Savannah’s beauty — all the flowers and fashion and conviviality — is unspeakable ugliness that must be given voice ... The Kingdoms of Savannah is an ensemble piece with no real center of gravity, and way too many kooky humans to enumerate here: a slumlord, a lazy boatman, a whistling vagrant ... Truth be told, I couldn’t always follow it, but I dug it. Green shows how you can love a place’s stink, find it splendid even as you despise its sediment.
MixedThe New York TimesThe well-connected Auletta draws on the work of those journalists and his own interviews with major players, including many surely fascinating hours with the beleaguered brother Bob. As for Harvey, he emails some terse responses to questions, and his representatives haggle over possible interview conditions before ghosting his biographer — but Hollywood Ending also mines an extensive profile Auletta wrote of him 20 years ago, and its outtakes ... Going along for the ride of Weinstein’s slow rise and fall, even with the able Auletta at one’s side, can feel even more dispiriting, like getting on one of those creaky roller coasters at a faded municipal playland.
PositiveThe New York Times... brisk and sympathetic ... The author has logged significant hours in the drawing rooms of the American aristocracy — and some of his pages do have the gently draped feeling of an auction catalog. But he wants to shake the dust from the name of Getty: to show that the majority are not drug-addled wastrels but productive citizens ... At various points in “Growing Up Getty,” readers might yearn for a grid with color-coded pegs, like the one in the old board game Battleship, to keep track of all the names and relationships. Certainly some Gettys are square pegs. Many prefer to go unquoted ... The rich may be different, in Reginato’s telling, but they are not indifferent.
MixedThe New York Times... aims, in well-intentioned, widely researched and somewhat scattershot fashion, to make you profoundly uneasy about the very act of visiting the beach ... There’s a lot of borrowing in The Last Resort, and the bibliography may divert you quickly to the more focused histories Stodola consulted ... the disorienting number of places Stodola alights, the number of vegan dishes and drinks she reports ordering, some at swim-up bars does make one scratch the head about what this book proposes to be, exactly; it tends to seem more last hurrah than last resort.
MixedNew York Times Book Review... willfully difficult ... sprawling, fragmented structure calls centrality itself into question (as well as liberté, égalité and, most particularly, fraternité) ... Some of these passages feel preachy, like they’d better belong in The Nation than a novel ... It’s hard to buck the critical tide here — Yuknavitch elicits rapture in many readers — but also hard to maintain a grip on characters so obviously laden, heavy with meaning greater than themselves. Thrust is an indignant and impressive novel, but only in spurts an enjoyable one, and maybe that’s exactly the point. Some will hurl it unfinished across the room. Others will savor its elaborately orchestrated punishments.
RaveNew York Times[A] grand slam ... Also a Poet began as Calhoun’s attempt to finish what her dazzling, absent-minded father couldn’t ... But it turned into something much less dutiful, and more interesting, a story about both the impossibility of reconstructing another person’s life and the importance of trying ... Calhoun’s through-her-teeth hisses at her father’s fumbling are great, as are the tapes: snatches of poetry unto themselves ... A big valentine to New York City past and present, and a contribution to literary scholarship, molten with soul.
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewBrooks focuses on two young Black men, giving them richly layered backgrounds and complicated inner lives (in an afterword, she thanks among others her son Bizu, whom she and her late husband, the author Tony Horwitz, adopted from Ethiopia, for insight into the modern Black experience) ... Part of Brooks’s project, developed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, is to show that Theo, despite 21st-century autonomy and a privileged background — he’s the son of diplomats, attended Yale and Oxford and has what a friend calls a \'Lord Fauntleroy accent\' — can never really relax because of his skin color. (To which some readers may respond: \'Duh?\') ... Their affair, which starts fumblingly and then takes a hard, melodramatic turn, feels like something of a skeleton mount, merely a place where their professional lives can intersect. Here, Brooks has done considerable homework, and deserves, by my lights, a top grade ... Brooks’s chronological and cross-disciplinary leaps are thrilling, and mostly seamless, though there can be a lot of exposition in the dialogue. With the all-access passport granted by historical fiction, she even alights daringly, if perhaps a little superfluously, in the circle of Jackson Pollock, right before the artist died while driving drunk with his mistress ... But this is really a book about the power and pain of words, not pictures ... But this is really a book about the power and pain of words, not pictures ... Call it a prolonged case of post-Watership Down stress disorder, but most books with animal themes make me want to run like hell; chances are the creatures are going to suffer or die at the hands of abusers or predators. In Horse, though, Lexington is ennobled by art and science, and roars back from obscurity to achieve the high status of metaphor. It’s us human beings who continue to struggle.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... a sprawling and enthralling history of how the gay subculture in Washington, D.C., long in shadow, emerged into the klieg lights. But it’s also a whodunit to rival anything by Agatha Christie ... These must have been harrowing existences, but their retelling makes for very good and suspenseful, if occasionally ponderous, reading ... Sifting methodically through F.B.I. files, correspondence, interview transcripts and press clippings — you can almost hear the old microfiche sheets ticking by — Kirchick holds the most dedicated persecutors, some of whom were themselves in the closet, to scathing account ... There’s vital material in each section, and even the trivia seems resonant ... a luxurious, slow-rolling Cadillac of a book, not to be mastered in one sitting. It would be best read at the violet hour with a snifter of brandy in a wood-paneled library, one of those with a rolling ladder to bring down some of the faded midcentury best-sellers resurfaced in these pages...It’s also a Baedeker of important places (map included) ... This is overwhelmingly a gallery of the white male gaytriarchy, with lesbians and people of color mostly on the sidelines. And Kirchick seems to run out of gas toward the end, as the gay situation improves. Though he addressed the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act in a triumphalist essay for The Atlantic in 2019 that drew ire from some on the left, there’s only the briefest mention of it here; nothing about the presidential candidacy and subsequent cabinet appointment of Pete Buttigieg; little about the rise of the L.G.B.T.Q. rainbow. But as an epic of a dark age, complex and shaded, Secret City is rewarding in the extreme.
MixedThe New York Times... familiarly dizzying spin ... Conway clutches policy like a flotation device, but keeps drifting back to the home front in this book ... while rat-a-tat and packed in a manner to be expected from someone once known as \'Sally Soundbite,\' Conway’s own bid at recording history, written with a book doctor, is spotty and selective. She goes on for pages about opioid addiction and abortion, but other than fleeting mentions of the Second Amendment, completely ignores the issue of gun control, which lands terribly in a month of two massacres. She is furious about incursions of the press, including this newspaper, into her family and private life, but gives them ever more grist by fuming hyper-specifically about her husband’s foibles ... Though it’s hardly short, this book isn’t remotely the whole story, nor is it likely to be the last volume of the Conway Chronicles.
MixedThe New York Time Book ReviewYou’ll certainly learn much, or be reminded of much ... Yet one frets for Hershovitz, having not yet encountered in his parenting journey (yes, he calls this book a \'journey\') the hardest problem of all: adolescence, when the family’s \'epistemic bubble\' is rudely burst and communication is sometimes reduced to grunts ... How will Hank feel in a few years to have a published account of his ultrasound result, in a chapter on sex and gender ... \'If you haven’t written something worth criticizing, you haven’t written something worthwhile,\' Hershovitz writes, so he surely won’t mind being asked: What will your sequel be, when the kids are nasty, brutish, taller than you and pinging around on Discord? Tell me another case, my daddy.
MixedNew York TimesThe Palace Papers is an apt title for what sometimes seems like a briefcase stuffed to overflowing with such conjecture, plus clippings, transcripts, observations, wry asides, literary references and trivial tidbits ... Not that Brown hasn’t scuffed her own shoe leather. She queries the equerries; she tracks down former nannies and ladies-in-waiting ... As in her earlier royal biography, Brown seems perennially torn between excoriating tabloid reporters for their most egregious trespasses and reveling in their discoveries ... The Palace Papers isn’t juicy, exactly, nor pulpy — there’s just not enough new extracted from the whole royal mess. It’s frothy and forthright, a kind of Keeping Up With the Windsors with sprinkles of Keats, and like its predecessor will probably float right up the charts.
PositiveNew York TimesHis book focuses on the Gran Fury art collective ... The logistics behind demonstrations...would not seem to be the most scintillating material, but Lowery painstakingly reconstructs conversations and negotiations that compel a reader to feel the era’s anguish and urgency. Much of the collective’s work now hangs in major museums ... Lowery is young...but writes like an old soul, scholarly and indignant at how AIDS was for so many years minimized and marginalized. Occasionally he permits himself an exclamation point of delight or mild sarcasm ... But mostly It Was Vulgar, ...is a deeply sober story about a vulnerable population ... It Was Vulgar isn’t perfect — this critic wanted to get out a blue pencil whenever Lowery overused the word \'ultimately,\' sometimes multiple times on a page, and his endnotes are scant. But it’s an important contribution to the annals of AIDS, and, in hewing close to but fanning out from a narrow cast of characters, a sturdy template for chroniclers of complex sociopolitical movements.
PositiveNew York TimesLet’s Not Do That Again beckons readers right in once more with that warm, conspiratorial first person plural. Nominally about politics — the author is a former political speechwriter — it’s really a skittering satire about a fissured nuclear family that could be transposed to almost any other power industry ... This is a caper populated by urban elites. I can’t think of anyone in recent years who has lampooned that cohort between covers so freshly and efficiently as Ginder ... In a world increasingly starved for good dialogue, Ginder’s is bountiful and crackling, like the screwball comedies of yore ... Let’s Not Do That Again won’t please everyone — for one thing, though it’s set after the Trump administration, it’s a pandemic-free zone ... I’m not sure this novel is art with a capital A anymore than a Joan Didion musical could be, but it’s a charmingly subversive treat.
PositiveThe New York Times Book... an indeed uncommon and genre-defying book probably best shelved under \'memoir,\' though its essayistic form and intermittently pedagogic style can give one the not-unpleasant feeling of sitting in a lecture or concert hall as someone else’s emotion and erudition washes over you. Hodges doesn’t mention Proust — at a heavily annotated but scant 200-ish pages, this book is perhaps the anti-Proust — but like him, she is in search of \'lost time,\' accounting for and analyzing years of her young life devoted to repetitive musical study, and for what? Why? ... This personal story reflects the sad, often lilting melody of Uncommon Measure, which is written in a mostly minor key. But like a good orchestrator, Hodges deepens it by filling it out with other elements ... certainly in Hodges’s prose, you can sense a great freeing-up, what in her original discipline is called rubato, a rare ease. In words, as she could not in notes, she seems able to fruitfully process a tough past and contemplate a brighter future.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThere have been many, many previous biographies of Leigh and several of Olivier...But Galloway, the former executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter, is perhaps the first author to interpolate this oft-told story with commentary from contemporary mental-health experts, like Kay Redfield Jamison, the psychologist who herself suffers from bipolar disorder and wrote An Unquiet Mind. He accomplishes this smoothly, in a contribution to the LarViv literature that is — if not strictly essential — coherent, well-rounded and entertaining. To the couple’s tale of passion he adds compassion, along with the requisite lashings of gossip ... Galloway clearly spent significant time in the archives (though frustratingly, a chunk of Leigh’s side of her correspondence with Olivier remains on the loose). Galloway splices this material seamlessly with old interviews and enough new ones with those Of That Era, such as Korda and Hayley Mills, to inject some pep and freshness ... It’s an enjoyable, disorienting sensation — as the Oscars now hemorrhage viewers and relevance — to find a time capsule from when movies and their stars didn’t just stream into our living rooms along with all the other space junk, but seemed the very center of the universe.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review... an ambitious attempt to delineate nothing less than the changing state of being female in this country over the past four centuries. Woman is exhaustively researched and finely written, with more than 100 pages of endnotes ... dense with people and events, covering everything from Puritan poets to the pill to Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head...it doesn’t really sink into the psyche as one might expect, given that Faderman is one of the pre-eminent L.G.B.T.Q. scholars of our time—recognizing that not many were permitted to exist in previous times. It’s kind of a Gyncyclopedia Britannica in a Wiki, tricky world of identity politics: impressive but not essential ... Describing the various horrors visited upon the women of America, particularly Indigenous and enslaved ones, Faderman doesn’t flinch ... There are many moments of understated levity, though, from history’s lesser insults ... Any newspaper editor in 2022 could tell you that it’s gender o’clock in America ... to omit a discussion of \'trans-exclusionary radical feminists\'—an insult lobbed at J.K. Rowling, among others—seems notable, if understandable ... Its bouquet is carefully gathered, wide-ranging, inoffensive, in a field that could actually use some stink bombs.
RaveThe New York Time Book ReviewChast’s book was a graphic memoir, told using her art; in Sipress’s book, his cartoons act more as punctuation marks to the narrative, written in prose that is also economical and amiable (and occasionally devastating). It’s like the difference between a through-composed opera and a musical ... t’s an endearingly vulnerable tale of being molded by one’s family of origin, then crawling out from under its suffocating weight ... I have a feeling he’d hate the goopy word \'storyteller\' as well, but boy, he’s a good one.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewI Was Better Last Night is very quilt-like. Fierstein shares his life less in conventional chapters than in colorful patches: 59 of them, stitched together with photos and a plush index. The sum of this is warm and enveloping and indeed two-sided: One is a raw, cobwebby tale of anger, hurt, indignation and pain; flip it over and you get billowing ribbons of humor, gossip and fabulous, hot-pink success ... As with a treasured blankie, the frayed side is somehow more lovable ... Unsurprisingly, some of the snappiest parts of this book are bits of remembered dialogue ... I Was Better Last Night gets to be more of an extended, eye-rubbing Tony acceptance speech after Fierstein hits the big time ... Still, this man seems to roll around, constitutionally, in velvety darkness. Medical matters, including a suicide attempt in the mid-1990s, are handled with matter-of-fact frankness ... There are enough one-liners in I Was Better Last Night for a one-man show ... With a dramaturge’s expert timing, Fierstein saves the most difficult anecdote of his upbringing for near the end, like the classic 11 o’clock number in musical theater. A story about his mother’s reaction to his accidental coming-out, it’s a pin prick to the heart. Actually it makes the heart a pin cushion.
PositiveNew York TimesThe development of online “wallets” might seem particularly bloodless...and yet The Founders is an intensely magnetic chronicle in which ambitions and emotions run as red-hot as they did in the Facebook movie written by Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network. It helps that PayPal’s origin story...features two of the more complicated antiheroes of our time: Peter Thiel...and Elon Musk ... Soni...is balanced and fluid in this solo outing, making mundane projects like the creation of an online \'button,\' or the dawn of CAPTCHA, somehow literary ... Soni does intermittently fall under the sway of business jargon ... But Soni also has a knack for the wry or lovely phrase ... Lest you believe the problems of a few future billionaires doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, Soni appends a coda about the power of PayPal’s \'mafia\' to inspire that left this reader, at least, in sobs. No finance bro has accomplished that.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThompson spreads herself far more thinly with the organizing principle that \'it really is different for girls.\' Her well-informed but slightly breathless narrative ranges from the 17th century to the 21st, crisscrossing continents as if on the Concorde rather than one of Cunard’s pokey liners, and her choice of which \'female stories\' to tell can feel somewhat arbitrary ... Thompson is a skilled literary analyst ... This is not so much an encyclopedia of heiresses as a starter pack ... With diligence and proper indignation, Thompson shows how, long before Hearst’s ordeal hit the airwaves, these ostensibly fortunate daughters had an inherent vulnerability ... Thompson’s sly asides, often in parentheses, can make her seem like a marquise at the party, behind her fan. She strives mightily to connect heiresses, a somewhat antiquated concept, to the present, which sometimes misfires ... Trapped in a silk-draped Venn diagram with the socialite and hostess, the heiress has been an unfair object of ridicule. After years of getting dragged through the tabloids and trotted out on reality shows like one of her beloved show ponies, she is both restored to dignity by Thompson’s concerned embrace and pushed away with an air kiss. It’s a complicated romp.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewAnything experienced through the screen of a television becomes a TV show,\' Klosterman declares, a little too sweepingly ... He\'s wrong that Generation Z can’t grasp the concept of \'albums\'; on the contrary, they have helped drive a recent and robust vinyl revival, and seem fascinated by other tactile phenomena ... Overall one is left with a shuddering sense of X’s insignificance, its preoccupation with what more politically motivated successors deem \'opulent micro-concerns.\' It would be more vulnerable to cancellation if it hadn’t already canceled itself. (Is not X the very symbol of cancellation?) By declaring his cohort recessive and unannoying at best, writing indifferent lines like \'times change, because that’s what times do,\' Klosterman cunningly sets a low bar for this project. Does it clear it? Well, yes. No. Sometimes.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewSullivan writes with absolute dedication and precision, bringing a previously obscure suspect to the fore ... Shaped like a procedural or a whodunit, The Betrayal of Anne Frank nonetheless hums with living history, human warmth and indignation. It agilely shifts the idea of \'collaboration\' over eight decades and nearly 400 pages, from dark and insidious crime to noble quest with algorithmic transparency ... The banality of evil that Hannah Arendt provocatively located in the form of Adolf Eichmann is superseded in these pages by the bureaucracy of evil, which is so often also \'the bureaucracy of the absurd,\' as Sullivan notes: an alphabet soup of agencies that helped render the vilest crimes against humanity pseudolegal and systematic. Names and terms accumulate and the mind can blur. But the facts of Frank’s devastatingly curtailed life command attention. Here, her famous diary is not literary work to be plundered at will, but Exhibit A in a mountain of damning evidence.
RaveThe New York TimesBest known as a memoirist and essayist, Manguso also writes poetry, and this is apparent in her fiction. Though dealing with life’s ugly, messy truths, her writing is compact and beautiful ... Manguso is terribly poignant on little Ruthie’s faith in a maternal love that isn’t really there, and her dawning comprehension of what might have made it impossible. But in damning increments, she also shows how feminine identity in America can be built up with material objects...and then torn down by violation, sexual and otherwise ... So masterly is Manguso at making beauty of boring old daily pain that when more dramatic plot turns arrive — suicides, teen pregnancies — they almost seem superfluous, visitations from an after-school special. The book is strong enough as a compendium of the insults of a deprived childhood: a thousand cuts exquisitely observed and survived. The effect is cumulative, and this novel bordering on a novella punches above its weight.
PositiveThe New York TimesI was desperate for tidbits to tide me over during the long wait for Season 4 [of Succession. Well, there aren’t many ... Cox writes eloquently about his origins in Dundee, Scotland, as the youngest of five children ... At a time when theater, the fabulous invalid, is straitjacketed by the pandemic, it’s heartening and a little wistful-making to have it recalled in all its messy midcentury glory ... Cox, who prefers cannabis to drink, can ramble on a bit. If times ever get lean again, it’s easy to imagine him doing bedtime stories for a sleep app ... Like many actors, Cox treads more nimbly on the boards than in his personal life ... On the page, at least, he is present, lively and pouring forth, though the hints of his distinctive burr may send you heading for the audiobook instead.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... fact-packed but bouncy ... Friedman also reacquaints readers, charmingly, with the \'leotite,\' a modest but accommodating one-piece garment made partly of wool and sold at Montgomery Ward; and Gilda Marx’s \'Flexatard,\' issued in multiple colors and fortified with Lycra ... Friedman obviously had fun paging through old ads...and the sometimes astonishingly retrograde magazine layouts overseen by serial dieters ... Most enjoyable is when Friedman shines light on less hallowed figures ... Having YouTube by your side will complement your reading of this book, in which paradigms are forever shifting and prose, covering so much ground, can sometimes over-contort ... the author carefully tracks elitism and racism, noting how social media has helped level the playing field for leaders such as Jessamyn Stanley, a Black yoga instructor and body positivity advocate with a devoted following ... In 2004, for n+1, Mark Greif wrote a lacerating condemnation of modern gyms ... In her own very different style, Friedman offers updates and bracing correctives.
PositiveNew York TimesSchulz’s prose is not so much purple as lavender ... intellectual appetite...pulses through these pages ... Sometimes old-fashioned in her syntax, using phrases like \'set about\' and \'I suppose,\' Schulz likes to turn parts of speech over and examine them, like stones ... a model of effective eulogy ... Against such a colorful character [as the writer\'s deceased father], made more vivid by his absence, others can’t help fading. Schulz strains to describe the state of bereavement, whose scudding emotions are presented as curious novelties but will be familiar to anyone who’s been there ... More radically, Schulz’s book torques the grief memoir into a Möbius strip, placing the totalizing experience of loss...on a continuum with the summons of romantic and even religious love ... The couple’s love story can have the earnest, burbling quality of a wedding journal ... If you can tolerate a little schmaltz, though, stick with Schulz ... In an ocean of churning cynicism and despair, this is a winning bet.
PositiveThe New York TimesMarks...tells Maier’s life with the intimacy of a scrapbook—and, at various points, the sanctioned intrusiveness of a detective log ... hoarding, Marks convincingly argues, was a sign of mental illness, a likely explanation for the supposed mystery of Maier’s extreme privacy that should be fully aired and destigmatized, rather than shrugged off as mere eccentricity ... Eager to follow this theory throughout the Maier bloodline, Marks sometimes displays the indiscrimination of that relative who has gone giddy on ancestry websites, tracing lineage until it blurs beyond recognition ... But the bulk of Vivian Maier Developed is a thorough, fascinating overview of an artist working for art’s sake, and a forceful case for further exposure rather than discretion in the name of kid-gloved pity. To add my own appendix: Marks’s selection of photographs, artifacts and documents is judicious and satisfying, but the book’s format reduces many to small squares. Bring a magnifying glass.
MixedThe New York TimesPart giddy travelogue, part belated apologia, part petty payback, all personal-therapy session, [Grisham\'s] book is titled I’ll Take Your Questions Now — which might invite the retort: Now you’ll take our questions? ... Chatty, sarcastic and scatological (her first real encounter with Trump is near a toilet), her prose effectively Ex-Laxes the whole weird experience ... If you spent the period from 2016 to 2020 in a \'wake me when it’s over\' crouch, this will also be a useful primer on the chaos of the executive branch at that time, told in chapters paced well, like holes on a golf course. Gliding lightly over her own background, flicking in bits of introspection ... \'Are your teeth real?\' [Trump] asks her early in their acquaintance. They are, and turns out they’re pretty sharp.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBrooks...does not concern himself in these pages with changing norms in the industry that has rewarded him so handsomely. Perhaps named for All About Eve but less of a bumpy night than a joy ride, All About Me! takes humor as an absolute value ... Its 460 pages rattle along like an extended one-liner ... As the old song goes, he accentuates the positive.
Will Smith and Mark Manson
PositiveThe New York Times... a fairy tale of dazzling good fortune—albeit one told by a narrator who admits by the second chapter that he is unreliable, a lifelong embellisher for whom \'the border between fantasy and reality has always been thin and transparent\' ... The book is also intermittently a call to self-actualization ... It’s more like a wild ride than a journey, however, one whose most valuable insights are to be gleaned not on Instagram but in a pre-web world of suburban basements, cassette decks, network TV shows, fax machines, party lines and playing outside ... Scenes from tours with Public Enemy and 2 Live Crew are amazing 3-D postcards from the rosy dawn of the genre ... Though Smith claims he didn’t read a book cover to cover until he was \'well into\' his 20s, he has...literary aplomb (thanks partly to Mom-Mom) ... As the book progresses, and Smith’s celebrity becomes more stratospheric and snow globe-like, the air grows thinner; he starts to gasp for breath and turns inward.
Edith Schloss ed. Mary Venturini
RaveThe New York TimesIt’s been polished into a glowing jewel of a book by several editors ... De Kooning and his wife, Elaine, a.k.a. Queen of the Lofts, are among the more completely filled-out figures in a collection of mostly outlines and shadows, darting in and out of time ... All five senses are shaken awake by The Loft Generation, which might as well be subtitled A Study of Synesthesia ... If nostalgia is a sixth and often fogging sense, it is absent in a book that feels manifestly present, clear and alive even while describing the past. Though Schloss reminisces about many friends she lost, and moments when she was overlooked, The Loft Generation, as the sly pun of its title suggests, is not dragged down by sorrow or regret. With her talent for art and writing and social life, Schloss may have spread herself too thin for greater renown. Or maybe her greatest gift was being in the blazing-hot There and attuned, basically happy as those around her strove and schemed.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewMichael Ignatieff pushes aside this commercial, foamy emotion [of happiness] and dives into the murkier waters beneath ... His book is an ambitious restoration project, a survey course of Eurocentric anguish from Job to the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz ... I must warn those weak of stomach that the straits faced by Ignatieff’s subjects, mostly white and male though they may be, are among the most dire that Western history has to offer ... Ignatieff believes that holy texts of all denominations can be mined for comfort and insight even by the faithless ... Humor is not one of Ignatieff’s recommended solace staples. More satisfying to him is the poetry that abject misery and grief can inspire. When words fail, as they so often do, there are love messages to decode in the visual arts ... Sitting among a teary audience at a concert devoted to the Psalms, where Ignatieff lectured, inspired this project, which gathered further momentum following the coronavirus, when he saw a symphony orchestra break from isolation into Zoom squares to play Beethoven’s \'Ode to Joy.\' Happiness this wasn’t, but something deeper and more enduring.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewI wasn’t expecting his memoirs to be quite such a \'Remembrance of Penises Past\' ... There is a wistful defiance to his sexual frankness as a Protestant gay man who came of age in an era of intense repression ... He spills it not in the typical big autobiographical splash but in dribs and drabs: letters, diary entries, tumbling sense-memories of fashion, food and furniture (and the other F-word), with scores of appealingly casual photographs sprinkled throughout. An established master of the slow reveal, Ivory serves gossip with a voile overlay ... more of a scrapbook of finely wrought prose sketches than the fully carved self-sculpture suggested by its title, whose touching origin story I won’t spoil ... It’s all very effectively spliced together here, but with occasional lapses in continuity ... This book does tend to skirt over or even coldly aestheticize unpleasant truths ... But I now look at the famous scene in A Room With a View that so embarrassed me as a young teen, naked men splashing full-frontally at a swimming hole, in a new and dappling light.
PositiveThe New York Times[Hunt\'s] focus is the man and his times, in a book that, with its yellowed maps and extensive quotations from ye olde correspondence, is both utterly transporting and extremely cozy ... One of the many pleasures of “The Radical Potter” is its meticulous catalog of the china-buying public’s tastes, some whimsical, others bizarre or sinister ... Will your eyes glaze over reading about the importance of Britain’s naval prowess to the ceramics trade? Perhaps, but on balance this is as dishy a biography about dishes as can be imagined.
PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewGoing There, as she calls the Epic of Couric, might as well be subtitled \'Owning This,\' starting with rattlesome family skeletons: subdued Judaism on one side, \'blighted with racists\' on the other ... Of sex and the newsroom, her attitude is basically that was the way it was, to paraphrase her avuncular idol Walter Cronkite ... Honestly, with all the enablers above her, it’s hard to fault Couric for being oblivious to a colleague’s compartmentalized exploits. If there’s one thing Going There conclusively proves, it’s that she always had a lot going on ... But I don’t believe for a second that she, so refreshingly candid about her competitiveness, wants the first line of her obituary to be \'Katie Couric was a tireless advocate for cancer awareness and research.\' In this generally sporting tam toss of a memoir, such an assertion lands with the soft plunk of sanctimony. And that’s never good for ratings.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewTo write the definitive book about Los Angeles would be impossible. In Everything Now, the novelist Rosecrans Baldwin doesn’t try. And in not trying, he may have written the perfect book about Los Angeles ... Freewheeling and polyhedral, the book could serve equally as an ornament on the coffee table of a Silver Lake architect; a pamphlet at an anti-deportation rally downtown; or a primer beside bound scripts in a filmmaking class ... Baldwin embodies the 19th-century flâneur: alighting here and there in space and time, spending a while, passing through, pulling over. A Baudelaire of Bel Air; a painter of post-postmodern life ... None of these visits feel like drive-bys, or postcards from the edge. Perhaps because of Baldwin’s asides...These minutiae are central to our understanding of this place that is as overcrowded as it is desolate; sometimes friendly, but never cozy ... And if Everything Now is not the first to remark on the double meaning of Angelenos \'needing validation\' — for parking but also their souls — no matter. Consider Baldwin’s ticket stamped.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis novel is so good, I want to rent a velvet-swagged amphitheater and gather a large audience to blare through a microphone just how much I like it ... Ingeniously structured ... Writing about music is tremendously hard. Writing about fictional music is surely even harder — but with artful juxtaposition and Zelig-like placement of made-up characters with real ones (Dick Cavett!), the author has conjured an entire oeuvre of lyrics, licks and liner notes that is backdrop for some of the most pressing political issues of our era, or any era. The story Sunny \'tells\' using the tools of journalism is propulsive, often funny and thought-provoking. Like the best fiction, it feels truer and more mesmerizing than some true stories. It’s a packed time capsule that doubles as a stick of dynamite.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewHarvey’s memoir of sleeplessness is like a small and well-worn eiderdown quilt: It might not cover everything, but it both cools and warms, lofts and lulls, settling gradually on its inhabitant with an ethereal solidity ... Harvey is a well-regarded novelist in the United Kingdom, and perhaps the only part of this book that feels a little lumpy and uncomfortable is her working out in its pages an O. Henry-like short story about a husband who loses his wedding ring while robbing an A.T.M. More compelled by her predicament, namely stretch after stretch of not only little sleep but no sleep at all, I found it difficult to care about this fictional character, or figure out if his crime and punishment represented anything larger about what disenchanted millennials have taken to describing as \'late-stage capitalism\' ... Not for nothing does the author’s own experience take place in 2016...That these events have since been outdone by arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, with its attendant sleep disorders, only amplifies this small volume’s relevance and power ... A year might be a handy if arbitrary length for a memoir or novel, but a sleepless night stretches out like a blank page, the inability to fill it a writhing stasis ... considers science and spirituality but ultimately rests, as it were, on language: its limits, and its possibilities. Harvey appeals to science and spirituality but is most soothed by poetry, by Philip Larkin’s conception of existence as \'the million-petalled flower / Of being here.\' If you too are a member of this lonely, late-night club that no one wants to belong to, you will find solace in his words, and hers.