PositiveThe New York TimesIn pre-pandemic times, Jost’s memoir, which Crown will publish on July 14, might have come across as a victory lap for an author contemplating new horizons. But now the book reads like his appreciation for a comedy institution that he hopes will come back in its traditional, chaotic form as soon as possible.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...while the novel’s spell lasts, it can feel like the earliest, exhilarating days under a new administration, when a pliant populace is eager and willing to follow wherever a confident leader directs us ... The tale she wants to tell is more ambitious and more immediate than a fable, a story about how the slightest taste of power so easily stimulates our limitless appetite for sadism ... But even if we had no idea what life was like under their equally despotic reigns, we could immediately recognize the brutality from Dovey’s pitch-perfect renderings of her three narrators’ daily lives and routines, each one a microscopic marvel of sublimated aggression ... The final movement of Blood Kin is a muted success: a few last-minute plot twists feel melodramatic and better suited to soap opera, but the novel’s closing pages, in which the fates of the Commander and his three servants at last converge, fold together as elegantly as origami.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review...Funny Man...is teeming with fascinating details about Brooks’s life and career, but doesn’t always seem to know which way to point its fire hose or when to turn it off ... There’s plenty of information in Funny Man, and it’s often illuminating ... Despite its overstuffed nature, the book nonetheless paints a portrait of Brooks as a wildly talented—emphasis, occasionally, on wild—artist whose intensity both advanced and impeded him ... But as Funny Man marches on, the book makes the mistake of giving equal emphasis to every phase of its subject’s career, lavishing excessive attention on events that don’t merit them and leaving other, more significant plotlines underdeveloped. I, for one, would have liked to hear more about episodes like Brooks’s difficult (and ultimately unfruitful) team-up with his idol Jerry Lewis ... By the time McGilligan gets to important late-stage developments...you can feel him racing to the finish line, rushing past moments that would have benefited from closer examination. Still, it is worth seeing Funny Man through to its conclusion, where Brooks attains the status of a reluctant elder statesman and starts to reckon with his legacy.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewGaiman cannot quite make it through the book’s introduction without lapsing into a story, a parable about cartography meant to illustrate that one cannot describe a story without telling the story itself. And as he recounts the origins of each work in the book, it becomes clear that just about everything Gaiman comes into contact with inspires him to write … Many of the protagonists in Fragile Things are themselves inveterate storytellers. They are fantasy writers, journalists, drifters posing as anthropologists, and they don’t like it when their narratives are forced to yield to other people’s tales — which, in a Gaiman story, happens almost all the time … The most compelling entries in Fragile Things return to the mysterious subject of artistic inspiration.