PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewPinocchio endures; why, I’m not sure ... Amid this glut, the novelist and playwright Edward Carey has had the inspired idea to cut the marionette loose and focus instead on Geppetto, the lonely old woodcutter who carves Pinocchio from an enchanted block of pine, giving him form and life — which is about as close as men get to immaculate conception, even in fantasy. Carey’s odd duck of a book is less a proper novel than a riff on the entwined themes of fatherhood and creative spark ... What keeps this book afloat, as it were, is the voice Carey gives to Geppetto. The author — whose previous books include Little, a historical novel about Madame Tussaud, and a Dickensian-style trilogy for middle grade readers — is a master of the dusty yet droll tone ... If that prose doesn’t delight you, this is not your book ... his meditations on paternal love and the ache of separation can be moving ... At other times, the slender novel set entirely inside a big stomach feels like a stunt — entertaining, clever, but a stunt nonetheless ... Carey’s dedication haunted me as I finished The Swallowed Man, and enriched it.
PositiveAir MailA joke vault in portable form! ... [Seinfeld\'s] autobiographical intro to Is This Anything? is so perceptive and engaging, as are subsequent interstitial glimpses of his offstage life, that I found myself wishing he’d written an honest-to-God memoir; he’s an observational comic, after all, and he’s surely seen some stuff ... The stand-up material is presented chronologically, by decade. Most of it reads funny on the page, especially if read with Seinfeld’s Long Island bray in your head. It helps, too, that his humor is rarely topical, so most jokes don’t date ... Myself, I’m not sure I need to savor his work quite this way, though it’s interesting to chart the changes in Seinfeld’s life through his comic preoccupations ... Seinfeld does seem to have soured a bit with age, growing more irritated than amused when it comes to humankind’s quirks, but even when he was young you could sometimes detect a fastidious lip curl behind a lot of his material. Otherwise, his psyche remains impenetrable.
PositiveAir MailThe book’s liveliest chapters recount Harry’s pre-fame life ... matter-of-factness, an easy equanimity not typically associated with pop stars, pervades much of Face It, even when describing something as traumatic as a home-invasion rape and robbery at the apartment of her boyfriend and musical partner Chris Stein ... Perhaps she takes things more in stride than ardent fans might hope due to the fact that she was 33, more than old enough to be a has-been, when the band finally broke through ... [Harry] always good company, forthright if not analytic. She even has good things to say about heroin!
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBright, Precious Days can’t really be read or discussed apart from its predecessors; it doesn’t hold its own water. I came to think of it less as a sequel than as the latest season of one of the great TV dramas, like The Sopranos or Mad Men — slow to reveal its cards, inherently uneven, but confident that its audience has already invested enough time to take pleasure in the slow accretion of detail and the occasional narrative cul-de-sac that might irritate in less steady hands. If a TV series can now be called novelistic, it seems fair to call a novel TV-istic. I mean it as a high compliment: an art form of sustained intimacy.