PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksFans of Stoner...will be delighted to learn that, despite obvious parallels with his fictional university protagonist, John Williams is both different and interesting enough to merit a book of his own ... It certainly helps that, like Williams, Shields knows how to tell a good story, one that will appeal especially to those interested in the ins and outs of the publishing industry and the ups and downs of a writer’s life (spoiler alert: there are many) ... Shields’s slim biography offers plenty of insights not only into John Williams’s life, but also, thanks to the lively descriptions of the arduous path to publication for each of his novels, the writer’s life in general. For an author of four novels, none of which exceed 300 pages a brief biography seems appropriate. Besides, Williams spent much of his later life drinking to excess, and a reader gets an uneasy feeling that a lengthier treatment would only reveal more embarrassing situations of the author with a drink or cigarette in one hand, an inhaler in the other. Not that Shields shies away from these moments entirely, which at their lowest reveal Williams to be a difficult person with misogynistic tendencies, and at their least harmful, show him to be locked in a world of his own.
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksBeyond the successful assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, it’s perhaps telling that Brown doesn’t go into detail as to how his fictional United States has fallen into such a derelict state, or how its citizens could possibly allow for a fascist president to take office (not once or twice, but three times) and fill the domestic skies with killer drones. In a way, we already know the answers … Brown is at his best describing the inner workings of the resistance: the way revolutionaries carve out an independent media network, making use of charmingly outdated technology to communicate and organize offline … Brown’s economical prose style ultimately fits this narrative, and the story essentially unfolds as a road novel...If Brown’s sentences seem restrained, even ugly at times, perhaps this is because there’s not much beauty to describe in this world.
Michael W. Clune
RaveThe MillionsBeyond the brilliant observations that seem to pop up on every page, the scenes of Clune’s childhood make for equally compelling reading, dramatically rendered as they are in rich novelistic prose.