MixedThe New York TimesWhen he\'s really going strong, Lapcharoensap is a commanding, animated tour guide, and a lot more than that -- he can write with the bait and the hook of genuine talent. At his weakest, however, he leans on exotic atmosphere and little else ... Lapcharoensap handles the discord between East and West ham-handedly ... Even some of his better stories are occasionally laid low by imprecision -- of language, of detail. He can fall into shorthand that reads, in its paucity of descriptive effort, like stage direction ... But whenever you\'re about to throw up your hands, some fluent craftsmanship or inspired imagery lures you on. There are moments you can\'t ignore.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] gut-punch of a novel ... The Hearts of Men has much to say about goodness and its opposite; about honor; and about manhood, its difficulties and precise texture. How it equivocates, how it can protect or maim ... in laying out this idea, Butler makes the book too schematic. The non-scouting world is unremittingly immoral and decayed. The men divide neatly into angel-heroes and devil-villains. And fate’s cruelties are relentless; these are sad lives, one and all. The problem with schematic stories isn’t in the execution, it’s that they feel foreordained. The author’s strong hand inhibits spontaneity ... These are not minor concerns. Yet the book overwhelms any quibbles. I keep coming back to Nelson, Butler’s great creation. He is a character of such vivid goodness, such moving and precise sorrow, I don’t think I’ll ever forget him. And in the end isn’t that what we ask of a novel, that it be unforgettable?