RaveVultureBonanos has earned universal raves for ... the strength of not only his uncanny ability to get to the scene of a crime almost before it happened, but also on a genius for mirroring back to us our own seedy voyeurism.
RaveVultureThis memoir from a fortunate ISIS escapee is clearer, deeper, and more informative than it has to be. A member of the decimated Yazidi minority in Iraq, Murad was enslaved, tortured, and raped before fleeing her captors, who are now mostly bereft of territory but still capable of inspiring mass murder worldwide. Murad begins with a fascinating crash course in Yazidi culture before telling her particular story, which frames ISIS’s attack on her people as a classic genocide.
Amos Oz, Trans. by Nicholas de Lange
MixedNew York[Oz’s] memoir, in a translation that preserves the author’s gorgeous, discursive style and his love of wordplay, is a social history embedded within an autobiography … The book is a modernist collage. At times, Oz gives it entirely over to its constituent characters and their stories and soliloquies. The structure leaves Oz prone to excessive digressions and redundancies, some of which come across as either unintentional or unintentionally jarring. In these sometimes meandering asides, Oz seems to be asking the reader’s indulgence. But he richly rewards a patient audience over the bulk of this sophisticated and searing memorial.
PositiveVultureIt’s easy to think of Oliver Stone on a psychedelic sci-fi bender, but Means, up to now a short-story writer, brings rigorous interiority to the characters enmeshed in a violent, careening plot, along with weird digressions and meta-textual flourishes reminiscent of Pynchon at his righteous angriest.
Karl Ove Knausgaard
PositiveVultureThis entry in the six-book series on Knausgaard’s life is his most structurally conventional volume and one of his most broadly compelling. The pointillist portrait of the artist as a bumbling striver spans the 14 years he spent in Bergen finding a way to turn his calling into a craft. In previous books we’ve seen the callow youth and the tortured father; here is the grisly connective tissue.
PositiveVultureFair, who followed brutal orders as an Abu Ghraib interrogator, has no choice but to relive those sessions, mainly in his nightmares. His decision to assemble them into a memoir isn’t necessarily heroic, but his self-lacerating moral clarity might be. Fear’s journey from Pennsylvania to the army, the police, government-contract work, a Christian seminary, and a heart transplant — all narrated in staccato present tense — fills out the picture of a good soldier doing bad work in a terrible war.
PositiveVultureThe author of the best-selling memoir The Color of Water and the award-winning novel The Good Lord Bird turns out to be the biographer of James Brown we’ve been waiting for. There’s some new dirt on the soul legend’s early life in this digressive amalgam of journalism and memoir, and more about Brown's decadelong afterlife — a pileup of lawsuits over a $100 million estate that should have gone to poor Southern schoolchildren years ago. But McBride’s real quarry is race and poverty in a country that wants to change the subject.
PositiveVultureEven fantastic true crime can descend into sensationalism in the service of reader-voyeurs. It speaks well of Tillman that her first instinct, on learning about the grisly murder of three children by a mentally unbalanced couple in Brownsville, Texas, was to look away. When she did finally dig in, her work pivoted to the larger and more important implications of the crime and its aftermath: the impact on close-knit neighbors, who consider demolishing the scene of the crime, and the consequences of jailing and executing the criminally insane.
PositiveVulture[Prentiss's] writing is as vivid and sensitive as the pensées of her synesthetic art-critic protagonist, whose intersection with an Argentine refugee painter sets the novel in motion. Prentiss's descriptions of the eighties art world ring true on both the texture of the work and its go-go capitalist corruption. Stumbles into broadness and sentimentality are mercifully few, a small price to pay for exuberance and heart.