PositiveThe New York Review of Books... a true horror story, the most comprehensive among a number of books published on the subject in the past few years, many of them personal accounts by people who have managed to escape or were evicted from the clutches of a group they came to feel was destroying them ... Wright’s book is a tribute to fact-checkers as well as to his personal courage ... Wright’s conclusions are cautious, but leave us with the central question: How far should government go to protect people who voluntarily involve themselves in harmful practices?
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewSarah Weinman is a crime writer who has seriously researched the Nabokov connection. Her book provides extensive background for the Horner story ... The achievement of her impressive literary sleuthing is to bring to life a girl whose story had been lost.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewWith Lila, the third novel about these families and this town, we understand more clearly the metaphorical nature of the landscape, the era and the history … Told with measured and absorbing elegance, this account of the growing love and trust between Lila and Reverend Ames is touching and convincing. The stages of Lila’s strengthening sense of security are carefully delineated, physical relations and her pregnancy handled with careful tact … Lila is not so much a novel as a meditation on morality and psychology, compelling in its frankness about its truly shocking subject: the damage to the human personality done by poverty, neglect and abandonment.
Grace Paley, Ed. by Kevin Bowen
PositiveThe New York Review of BooksTo reread Paley is to reexperience the activism and excitement of the 1960s, their energy and perhaps naive optimism; her essays quiver with indignation and faith. Many, even most, of the principled stands she takes may seem self-evident in hindsight but were disputed at the time she wrote about them, like her opposition to the Vietnam War, and even the bomb … For all the linguistic fireworks of their voices, some of Paley’s characters have a certain generic quality. One exception to this is her memorable alter ego, Faith Darwin, who appeared in each of her three collections and is usually taken to be autobiographical. A writer’s personal qualities always shine through her literary surrogates, and it’s Paley herself we love above all, the more so in that she doesn’t disguise herself very much, and we so admire the tough, funny, resigned, and philosophical woman we feel her to be.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewOne point Elkin makes in her absorbing new book is that although men had always enjoyed the practice of loafing through city streets with no particular object, just enjoying the scene, women had long been prevented, culturally and practically, from going out alone ... In a sense, Elkin’s book is itself a flânerie, a stroll where the reader may come across an unexpected person or get some ideas about May 1968 or the Situationists. Or marvel over an intriguing bit of research ... If Elkin’s capsule biographies can occasionally seem a bit potted, they are never uninteresting. Elkin has an eye for the unexpected detail, as befits a flâneuse ... It will be up to booksellers to figure out how to categorize her pastiche of travel writing, memoir, history and literary nonfiction. A reader, flaneusing along the bookshelves, will find in it some of the pleasures of each.
PositiveThe New York Review of BooksCline has a lovely gift for the apt simile, and the book teems with startling description—one sometimes has a sense that some stern editor probably made her rein in her headlong gift for figures of speech, but the abundance that’s left is often wonderful ... A less accomplished writer might have chosen to portray Evie’s parents as neglectful monsters, but they are strangely sympathetic, or at least typical of their generation and milieu ... The most interesting thing about this well-written, sometimes overwritten, gripping novel is its sympathetic examination of the whole situation of an adolescent girl.
RaveThe New York Review of BooksHis new novel, Our Young Man, is about 'the usual,' from an Edmund White we’ve met before but are always happy revisiting — smart, worldly, erudite, well-connected, and funny, in this case writing about gay society in early 1980s New York as seen from the point of view of a newly arrived French male model. It’s a witty reversal of a reliable Jamesian formula White has used elsewhere... Most of the time, events are seen from Guy’s perspective, and he’s a fairly reliable narrator... Much of the tension of the narrative comes from hindsight, our knowing what the characters don’t about that pitiless disease [AIDS], and from our wish to save them... But this is not an AIDS novel, it’s a picaresque story of one person’s life and career, and a comedy of manners ... Our Young Man is informative, wise, and amusing, and you can’t help wondering who the originals were, though you know, of course, that it’s only a novel.