RavePopMattersSocial historian Sam Wasson\'s The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood, beautifully and smoothly evokes the era...while carefully weaving in the stories of the Chinatown creators: writer Robert Towne, director Roman Polanski, stars Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, and legendary producer Robert Evans ... What\'s amazing about the story Wasson weaves are the details about the time, energy, and heart each character invested in the production of Chinatown ... The end of The Big Goodbye is a beautiful evocation of desire never fulfilled, thirst never quenched, and curiosity never satiated ... a graceful and worthwhile elegy to a time dear to those who are lucky enough to remember it. It also serves as seriously engaging text for younger generations ready and willing to expand their minds and explore the past to better understand the present. It will be hard to find a better film book published this year.
PositivePopMattersThe unnamed narrator of Justin Kuritzkes\'s Famous People is a thinly-veiled adaptation of Justin Bieber. This is the easiest and closest approximation most readers will make ... The book\'s overall success depends on the reader\'s willingness to stay with this speaker. Where will he take us? Do we want to go? How much can we read conversations recalled as \'I was like\' and \'He was like\' without slamming the book\'s covers shut and throwing it across the room? ... What works best in Famous People is the pacing. For a relatively brief novel, a lot is happening. Kuritzkes...has an assured tone in this debut as a novelist ... Kuritzkes\'s debut novel should mark the start of an interesting and important journey.
Randon Billings Noble
RavePop MattersRandon Billings Noble\'s Be With Me Always is a tender, graceful collection of essays from a writer whose mission seems clear. Who are we within the context of our desires and longings? How do we function within bodies that are regularly changing? Through the process of viewing ourselves outside the shell of our beings, Noble does not seem to be suggesting that we can or even should live outside the limits of our corporeal essence, but we can try ... The thrill of a volume like this is how Noble doesn\'t seem to be insisting her essays be read in the order as presented here. The sections are logically curated, and the essays contained within clearly speak to each other, but they also communicate across the pages ... Be With Me Always works its magic in profound, subtle, seamless ways. The meticulous craftsmanship in the construction of these essays is equally matched by Noble\'s beautiful, confident, assured vision.
RavePop Matters... a blistering and brilliant quintet of reportage and observations from the forefront of the five parts of our lives suggested by its subtitle. It\'s not explicitly political in the sense that any leaders are mentioned. We know the names of leaders who have fallen on the sharp swords of temptations offered by sexual and political indiscretions, and the seduction of power to abuse it to one\'s own sexual gratification, and their narratives stay with us as we read these essays ... Shields knows that his readers aren\'t looking for socio-political commentary so much as creative non-fiction essays that are distinctly in his voice. He\'s a master deconstructionist, a visceral confessionalist ... While many of his past titles have flirted with the five themes in The Trouble With Men, never has it seemed so intense and concentrated. The confessional explosions that play themselves out in this book are equal parts terrifying, edifying, and beautifully troubling ... a difficult book to embrace, a problematic book to pin down, but that\'s the point. Shields might be a literary boxer, jabbing at us as we try to spar with him, a tender shot to the kidney or a harsh connection to the jaw, but at times he\'s also a master patchwork quilt artist ... Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power are the eternal quintet that has burdened and uplifted us, and in the masterful hands of David Shields they\'re illuminated in a dangerous, brilliant, eternal light.
PositivePop MattersA lovingly curated example that the flame [Debritto] has been keeping for this prolific writer is far from being extinguished ... What works best in these excerpts, which are at times difficult to thematically connect with each other beyond the reflections on drinking, is the lean and economical style ... a brief volume that will take effort to figure out ... may appear to be the core theme of all Bukowski\'s work, and a great deal of patience to wade between the alcohol-drenched lines will reveal more profound truths ... [Bukowski] might not have a legitimate place in 21st century modern literature, filled as his work is with sexism, racism, homophobia, and unapologetic inebriation -- often with violent consequences -- but his work is still worth exploring for the role it played in its time and the voice it gave the hopelessly romantic, lonely, dispossessed social outcasts.