PositiveThe New YorkerIn Houdini: The Elusive American...the biographer Adam Begley tries to say, with good-humored seriousness, what kind of man Houdini was, and what he represented. It is not an easy task. In the familiar style of American popular artists, Houdini refused all interpretation ... Begley...writes, a little sourly, \'Houdini was not interested in the meaning of his stunts, and in a sense they were meaningless. They accomplished nothing. They advanced no cause, proved no point. . . . He liberated only himself.\' And yet Begley’s vivid account can’t help but invite us to see metaphor, and meaning.
RaveThe New YorkerSuperb ... loads Hecht’s staggering contradictions into a compact but abounding two hundred and twenty pages ... expertly links Hollywood and New York, American Jewish conundrums and the intricacies of Zionist politics. Immersing herself in Hecht’s novels and tracts (no easy task), she writes with enormous flair about a marginal figure in literature but a major influence on twentieth-century popular culture.
PositiveThe New YorkerFamous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein is unique among classical-music memoirs for its physical intimacy, its humor and tenderness, its ambivalence toward an irrepressible family genius... Jamie Bernstein’s writing is devoted to what she directly experienced, altered, it seems, as little as possible by the passage of time. Leonard Bernstein is always \'Daddy,\' not a figure in a novel, or the hero of myth, but an all too palpable man ... Jamie Bernstein finds a way—many ways, actually—of making a life out of music without being a musician ... Jamie Bernstein has had a happy fate: the existence of this well-written book, with its poignancy and its shuddery detail
PositiveThe New YorkerShe’s not Jewish, a fact that, it turns out, matters not at all—she handles the Jewish part of Spielberg’s identity briskly and convincingly ... She has written a swift and elegant introduction to Spielberg’s life and work, in which admiration for his talents and his stupefying success overcomes most of her resistance.