RaveChicago Tribune... one of the year’s best [memoirs], partly because it is the work of a physician describing, with a natural writer’s concision, craft and bluntness, his vulnerabilities. In harrowing ways, it is an account of a Chicago ER doctor not just saying what he would like to say to patients he treats but asking what he wished he had time to ask ... It is in the long nonfiction tradition of workplace exposes that describe...the way things work as they actually work ... Sometimes they’re muckraking; and sometimes they’re about process. Fisher’s book is more of the latter, with an opening line so haunting and immediate, you’re transported back two years ... The Emergency gathers into a furious indictment of not only his own workplace, but American health care, and its interlocking failures and racial inequities, too knotty to untangle ... the book itself, paradoxically, leaves you at times with an odd reassurance, that despite endemic problems, some of the people involved are doing their best.
RaveThe Chicago Tribune... excellent ... Among the joys of The Quiet Before is how it reframes the seeming flotsam of everyday communication as tacitly subversive.
MixedThe Chicago Tribune... despite oodles of research and fresh material, Vivian Maier Developed never quite advances the narrative from Vivian Maier the Enigma to merely Vivian Maier the Artist ... despite ranging childhood to death, laying it all out with care and clarity, here is an undeveloped life, waiting for an authoritative, critical assessment. Which is what Marks sets out to do; she moves in the right direction. Maier’s photos are sprinkled on page after page, with nuggets of insights on most, along with a welcome discussion of Maier’s relationship to her fellow photographers, and a better look at the ideas that inhabited Maier’s world ... But it’s an odd book, haphazardly organized — many of the controversies linked with Maier’s discovery, an assessment of her staying power, even some of her history are never woven into that story but saved for a lengthy appendix. So we get leaps where gaps appear ... Regardless of what you think of her photographs, regardless of the attention she has received in the 12 years since her work became known, Vivian Maier deserves better than we have given her ... I’m no photography critic; or even a book critic. But as someone captivated by Maier’s photos who wondered what I was looking at, I come away from Vivian Maier Developed still uncertain why she mattered, or how this work compares with, say, Garry Winogrand or Robert Frank, to name two photographers who shared Maier’s attention to social justice and plain ordinary existence. Marks offers a handful of outside ideas from the New York Times — nay, yea, meh — then moves on ... If I sound disappointed, I am — personally.
RaveThe Chicago TribuneTo read The Man Who Lived Underground today is to recognize an author who knew his work could be shelved for decades without depreciation. Because this is America. Because police misconduct, to use the genteel 2021 term, is ageless. Check the copyright page, read the production notes: Yes, this was written in 1941. Yes, it’s 80 years later. Yes, Wright died in 1960, at 52, having never scaled again the commercial heights of Native Son. Yet somehow The Man Who Lived Underground found its way into bookstores at the right time ... To be fair, The Man Who Lived Underground, complete, does read like two different books — one brutal, one ethereal. But without the violence that sends him fleeing, Fred Daniels’ descent into the underground would be vague ... a true lost gem, with echoes of Camus, Dostoyevsky, Poe.
RaveChicago TribuneMusic, [...] in the work of Hanif Abdurraqib, is more like a vehicle for getting closer to what it means to be feel joy, and history, and shame, and anger, and lonesomeness ... his writing, far from being the usual top-down music criticism, is spotted with small revelations and fleeting instances of recognition ...
RaveChicago TribuneCaste the book, among the year’s best, makes a convincing, often scorching case that caste was there alongside the first colonials (divinely ordained, of course), there at the birth of the nation, and we wrestle every day with that legacy, some benefiting from caste, many never allowed their potential because of caste. Her book\'s ambition is large ... Wilkerson’s book, more than a decade in the works, arrives like the uncannily prescient context that’s been absent from our pandemic America, roiling from unrest and collapsing institutions ... Caste, the book, upsets the already rickety national myth that anyone in the United States can be anything — albeit, without entirely abandoning that hope ... it’s pleasantly eccentric, jumping from memoir to narrative journalism, history to sociology, unexpected in its direction.
PositiveThe Chicago Tribune\"At a glance, it looks like a dive into the history of American territorial (yawn) expansion. And it is, a deeply researched, often revelatory reframing of history as seen through the islands, prairies and military bases that the United States has claimed as its own ... And yet, even if you set aside that premise, as much as this is a story of neglect and violence — it’s an absorbing, entertaining read. You learn something amazing on almost every page.\