PositiveBookforumIt’s possible to log this scene with the moon-shaped lamp as a throwaway on first reading, a moment of peak twee in the kind of hermetic reality that only exists in the imagination of certain film auteurs, or the authors of literary fiction. But Alcott is a wider-angle novelist than this, and the book’s final third opens up a different frontier altogether ... It is an overtly feminist response, in the covert action of fiction, to the literature of the space program that came before it—think of Norman Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon (1970) and Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (1979)—and a bold self-guided launch into the thermosphere from which the Major American Novel winks down indifferently at us ... It’s not easy to graft so many cultural touchstones and political movements into one convincing narrative whole, and the procedure doesn’t always take ... Alcott is unsparing in her account of the depersonalizing effects of sexual relationships with men ... Fay’s ambition, at the start of America Was Hard to Find, is to make life \'happen more deeply inside her.\' Alcott’s novel is a finely calibrated machine that does the same for us.
PanBookforumSolar, spanning the years 2000–2009, is divided into three sections, each with its own catalogue of humiliations … In Solar—just as in 2006’s plodding, oddly lifeless Saturday—the historical markers are all in place (Bush v. Gore, Iraq, Obama’s election), and the science and technology are up to the minute and sufficiently digested for a lay reader to feel edified. And the plot brings the fatuous Beard to a reckoning foreseeable enough to seem inevitable and just preposterous enough to remind us that McEwan, acting as his story’s controlling, mortal God, has been behind it from the start. It has begun to look like Briony Tallis’s meditation on the novelist’s “absolute power of deciding outcomes” from Atonement is McEwan’s credo; he is the God who spends six days making the world and the seventh reminding us he did.
PanThe New York Times Book Review...an unabashed tear duct rooter that should come with its own box of Kleenex Ultra Soft and a plush toy from the American Cancer Society ... If the conceit of having Karen write an entire book to Jake in direct address gets clunky in places, particularly after her remission gives way to recurrence and her condition deteriorates, it is consistent with 'sick lit' as a genre and keeps the pages turning ... This primal eruption of maternal jealousy and rage is the dramatic high point of the novel — 'I am your only mother!' Karen howls in a $2,000 wig, a Wii controller clutched in her hand. The rest of Our Short History, unfortunately, is content to deliver the tamer pleasures of 'sick lit' for adults.
Javier Marias, Trans. by Margaret Jull Costa
PanBookforum\"...with Thus Bad Begins, Marías’s method seems more scattershot, the narration windy, the means of construction strangely hackneyed. There’s a fine line between adhering to manner and just mailing it in; creative unoriginality, even when it’s intentional, still risks familiarity and its deflations ... some of the strongest passages here deal with the generational collision of the time as roles and the underlying power structure shifted ... In Thus Bad Begins, Javier Marías’s game of espionage gives away its secrets all too easily—and they are disappointing when they arrive.\
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThere is a matter-of-factness to Cooper’s art that helps Falling avoid the pitfalls of mawkishness and sentimentality ... In his memoirs for adults Cooper has developed a panel-based approach that isolates stretches of time and renders them in an eternal present tense...instead of employing the wisdom and the knowledge of retrospect, Cooper makes a fetish of the captive moment. He does the same with Falling, and the lack of reflection is a weakness.