MixedThe New York Times Book Review... didn’t [Theroux] notice that after Part 1 (in which Sharkey hits the homeless man and goes into a funk while Olive has a setback of her own) the book loses both tension and forward motion? Part 2 backtracks into Sharkey’s childhood and earlier life for 177 episodic pages, apparently to account for why he cares only about surfing; we’d have been willing to take his blankness as a given, assume he’d been wounded and get on with the story ... It would be a turnaround worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge — if the pre-conversion Sharkey weren’t a dullard compared to that shrewd comic gargoyle ... Although Under the Wave at Waimea has its implausibilities, this moment seems exactly right. We can accept Sharkey’s transformation into a compassionate human — you see this stuff in fiction all the time — but into a reader? An old pro like Theroux knows that the willing suspension of disbelief has its limits.
Gene Roberts, Hank Klibanoff
RaveNewsweekIt\'s hard to imagine who\'d be better qualified to tell the story of the press and America\'s civil-rights movement ... The Race Beat shows how the press and the story they covered became inextricable ... Roberts and Klibanoff, whose years of journalistic experience have clearly led them to prefer pragmatism over dogma, don\'t try to draw bright lines in this ethical murk. But they do know about decency and common sense ... The Race Beat has good characters, good yarns and good thinking. Just as important, though, it\'s got a good heart.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewVivian’s arrival at a self-knowing self-sufficiency doesn’t have quite the oomph of a heroine throwing herself under a train (Or, for that matter, of a heroine marrying Mr. Darcy.) ... Paradoxically, this open-endedness, this refusal of received literary templates, is what makes City of Girls worth reading. It’s not a simple-minded polemic about sexual freedom and not an operatic downer; rather, it’s the story of a conflicted, solitary woman who’s made an independent life as best she can. If the usual narrative shapes don’t fit her experience—and they don’t fit most lives—neither she nor her creator seems to be worrying about it.
David Foster Wallace
RaveNewsweek... truly remarkable ... We suspect Infinite Jest isn\'t intentionally that postmodern; we\'re still not sure how the two main characters hooked up to search for the MacGuffin, but we assume it\'s either because we\'re too thick or Wallace is too subtle such analysis doesn\'t get across what weird fun Infinite Jest is to read ... The enticements of Infinite Jest range from microdescriptions to macro-episodes ... As with any thousand-page book, we thought we could make some cuts-some of the inside-tennis stuff, say. But maybe we were wrong Wallace has put Infinite Jest together so craftily that one apparently nonsensical reference in the first few pages pays off 917 pages later--and makes clear where the MacGuffin was hidden. Too much fun? For those hooked on the heartfelt and straightforward, yes. Don Gately would never finish Infinite Jest. But Prince Hamlet would love it to death.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewA Mercy has neither the terrible passion of Beloved—how many times can we ask a writer to go to such a place?—nor the spirited ingenuity of Love, the most satisfying of Morrison’s subsequent novels. But it’s her deepest excavation into America’s history ... Postcolonialists and feminists, perhaps even Greens and Marxists, may latch onto A Mercy, but they should latch with care, lest Morrison prove too many-minded for them. This novel isn’t a polemic—does anybody really need to be persuaded that exploitation is evil?—but a tragedy ... In Morrison’s latest version of pastoral, it’s only mercy or the lack of it that makes the American landscape heaven or hell, and the gates of Eden open both ways at once.
PositiveThe New York TimesThe Corrections turns on a single, definingly American question: Will Mom be able to get the whole family home for one last Christmas? Franzen tucks the more momentous questions into a branching system of subplots, starring each of the main characters in turn and making each one equally sympathetic … Franzen likes his fiction smart and larky, with glimpses of scary depths and a flirtatious, on-and-off relationship with realism...the success of David Foster Wallace's epic, minutely interconnected, ultimately unresolved Infinite Jest has made a novel like The Corrections – a far less dense and demanding read – seem part of a new mainstream, in which either teasing hints of formalism dress up the randomness or irruptions of randomness juice up the formalism.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThese three novellas aren’t among [Harrison's] very best, but they vigorously reassert his distinctive obsessions and his distinctive voice. No one writes more persuasively about the natural world, the ways of animals both wild and domestic, rural roughneck mores, hunting and fishing, food, drinking, the writing life and, of course, male lust: reflexive, resistless, defiantly unfashionable.