PositiveHouston ChronicleBar Pulpo indicates the book’s intention of a singular entity with multiple tendrils operating in different directions to different ends. Which is a long way of saying The Last Orgy of the Divine Hermit is of a piece with Leyner’s body of work, while also baring an underlying sweetness as the author recognizes and updates the trope of the mad scientist with the daughter ... Its pace, like much of his work, is brisk, with humor and horror placed in close proximity to one another. But one of the narrative circles within it is of a watchmaker, and clearly that story resonates with Leyner. A meticulous approach is required to make stories so feverish. Under a microscope, Leyner’s work reminds me of works by William Hogarth, the 18th century English artist. Hogarth’s engravings share with Leyner’s fiction a sharp satirical tone. They’re also full of kinetic energy, despite being—like Leyner’s printed pages—black and white ink static on a canvas. Hogarth’s work was full of intricate markings, seemingly infinite little pieces that harmonize into a greater whole.
RaveHouston Chronicle... a story of panoramic truth ... this story is an instantly engrossing way of detangling numerous tangled cultural threads ... McBride beautifully provides backstory into each of the characters. As he does so he gives a panoramic view of the housing project, the neighborhood and other neighborhoods on the periphery. The story is teeming with information both sincere and unreliable, imbued with decades of stereotypes and lore codified through repetition.
RaveHouston ChronicleIn Cásares’ hands, the story is a concise and thoughtful meditation on spaces: particularly the idea of home, both ancestral and structural ... The construction of the new book is remarkable for its efficiency. Cásares writes with a leanness evident in a short story, but the thematic content is grand and provocative.
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
RaveHouston Chronicle\"... devastating and inviting ... [Tshuma’s] book slips like sand through fingers through time and voice, masterfully condensing the history of Zimbabwe to the point where the back story is informative and provocative but not cumbersome ... [Tshuma’s] is a novel without a wasted sentence, radiant with its descriptions of people and spaces and moments.\
PositiveHouston Chronicle\"... a visceral widescreen epic ... [Obioma’s] is a bracing and searing work that compresses an ordinary life into an epic journey ... And with An Orchestra of Minorities [Obioma] has again worked with rudiments that feel familiar, yet presented them in a way that feels entirely new.\
PositiveThe Houston ChronicleThe book charts his youth as the world-traveling son of a diplomat, followed by his enlisting in the Navy during the Vietnam War and his divisive involvement upon his return with the anti-war movement. It steers through his rise in politics to the Senate, and the close-call presidential campaign of 2004. Then more time in the Senate, and then his service as secretary of state under President Barack Obama ... Vietnam is a fascinating fissure throughout the book, one that runs from the moment he enlists to the present. But Kerry spoke of his friendship with another veteran of that war, the late Sen. John McCain, as a source of hope even in divisive times.
RaveThe Houston ChronicleSwartz tells all their stories with a novelist’s deft touch for character and dramatic tension ... The philosophical off-gassing that accompanies these developments [in heart techology] is also addressed ... Ticker needs no further comparisons to The Right Stuff. But there are some similarities: Both space exploration and the development of an artificial heart are pursuits that do not yet have a final chapter. And both enjoyed periods of great renown, only to have the public begin to lose the fervor of its early interest ... Those involved in the development can’t settle into the complacency that immerses the rest of us. Which means Swartz had to build an ending that I won’t describe here because it’s too fragile and beautiful to spoil.
PositiveHouston ChronicleJason Heller’s Strange Stars is a book that prompts contemplation about time and space, and more specifically about time and space with regard to popular music … He touches on Jimi Hendrix’s discovery of the phrase \'purple haze\' in a spacey pulp novel, before moving onto stories behind the work of more prominent musical spacemen like David Bowie, Sun Ra and George Clinton … I’ve read more than a few music-related books over the years. But Heller…finds a corner of the universe about which I’d not previously read.
PositiveThe Houston ChronicleHawkins shows a natural flair for capturing his early life before hip-hop made the Wu international stars ... Hawkins' book is particularly adept at presenting a New York City of long ago, during its Rotten Apple era ... Those looking for a Wu-Tang biography will be disappointed. Hawkins riffs - not always in flattering ways - about the group's members, with their many dysfunctional relationships, all stuck together with tape and glue by producer Robert 'RZA' Diggs ... But the book's best moments riff on the daily hopes, anxieties and disappointments that come with living in a community immersed in struggle. The body count is high. And more interesting is Hawkins' ability to tell the story while also hinting at how a hunch or a feeling can lead to a decision that results in freedom or jail.
PositiveThe Houston ChronicleOn the surface, Joan Didion’s Blue Nights is a memoir about her daughter’s death. But in contemplating the life of Quintana Roo Dunne Michael, Didion travels a more harrowing path than simply charting her grief ...about love and commitment and parenthood that are often suppressed in mixed company are pecked at until all that remains of the carcass is an eye-to-eye socket look at the End ...at times an uncomfortable read, in part for the direct way Didion dissects some of our dishonesty about joy and life. There are flashes of Didion’s life here that aren’t particularly relatable ... The subsequent direction of Blue Nights is far from linear, with Didion circling themes ... In Magical Thinking, Didion’s grief ran concurrently with the task of caring for Quintana, whose health took a terrible turn. There is no such balance in Blue Nights, which settles into a twitchy solitude.