MixedThe San Francisco ChronicleMunro's thematic consistency is both her great strength and her Achilles-like weakness. She certainly has a level of discipline that can be marveled at. Her prose is clear and unobtrusive, which works well with her characters and settings, but there are also conscious moments when her writing has an intricate and demanding beauty. Miraculously, she usually accomplishes this without compromising the rhythm of the story … The downside to Munro's Olympic dedication to her craft is that nothing much changes in this world. Munro's writing has settled into a kind of regimented intractability.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleTree of Smoke is about many countries, both real and mythic, and three families, two American and one Vietnamese, with their own conflicts and betrayals to contend with … Plenty of space is afforded to rumination and soul-searching, but Johnson is smart enough to recognize that something like the Tet Offensive can judiciously move along the pace: There is a time to dwell on the mythology of a place and then a time to hit the deck … Stylistically, it ranges from Hemingwayesque straightforward simplicity to Proustian narrative complexity and descriptive splendor. Johnson brings his talents as a poet to bear, especially when describing the jungles and cities of Asia.
PanThe San Francisco ChronicleNo Country for Old Men is an unholy mess of a novel...a thriller that is barely thrilling …. Chigurh and Moss play cat-and-mouse to the point of redundancy, wounding each other repeatedly and killing many guilty and innocent bystanders in the process. This goes on until the penultimate scene, which oddly enough takes place offstage, and mostly out of sight of the reader, further frustrating the narrative. In the end, the story is swamped with a pervasive and dispiriting sense of nihilism … There are a few moments when the dialogue harks back to the classic McCarthy of yore, but even here there are many more moments of jaw-dropping platitudes.