PositiveThe New York Times...the key to Tomine’s fiction is the rage and fragility beneath the pristine compositions ... Constructed in a loose, appealingly humble style on a Moleskine-like grid, the 26 vignettes here trace a lifetime of neuroses and humiliations ... Though Tomine’s fictional characters aren’t always recognizably Asian, when playing himself, he can’t escape the prejudices of those who see him as the Other.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...heartbreaking [work], as they say, of staggering genius: feverishly inventive and intimately told, drawn with empathy, architectural rigor and a spooky sense of a divine eye. Opening in Ware’s native Omaha circa 1975, Rusty Brown is at least four books in one, with a sum much greater than all the parts, expanding not just the possibilities of the form but also the mental space of his reader. Along with David Bowman’s Big Bang, it’s the most audacious and inspiring fiction I’ve read this year ... Ware’s superpower is to view characters through time, to chart their thickening bodies as well as the children they were ... Rusty Brown is also playful and funny ... All of Ware’s books gesture to infinity: With their microscopic paratextual matter, it’s likely that no one aside from Ware himself has ever definitively finished one of them. Of course, Ware’s true gift is not the density of his books but in how he compels us to feel amid such bounty.
George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Illus. by Harmony Becker
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... a detailed, wrenching account of what happened to thousands of Japanese-Americans in the wake of Pearl Harbor ... They Called Us Enemy should prove the most potent introduction for younger readers to this ignoble chapter in our history. The book touches on the highlights of Takei’s long career, but it’s movingly clear that his artistic and moral compass was formed by his childhood incarceration in Arkansas, as well as in two camps in California ... There are some glitches, maybe the result of too many cooks ... The book’s framing device — an older, famous Takei explaining to an audience — shifts too much: Are we listening to Takei speak at a TED Talk in 2014, or at the F.D.R. Museum in 2017, or at ComicCon? ... But the power of the story remains pure, and Harmony Becker’s clear, empathic drawings evoke the human toll of the camps, while ably conveying the greater historical forces at work ... includes numerous clips of Takei’s social activism, and ends on a note of filial piety. But before it does, there’s a chilling sense that the lessons of the past have been unlearned, in this age when the highest authorities in the land continue to target some ethnic Other.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"Among its many virtues, Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir helps us think through this term [POC] with grace and disarming wit. The book lives up to its title, and reading these searching, often hilarious tête-à-têtes—with her parents and brother, confidantes and strangers, employers and exes—is as effortless as eavesdropping on a crosstown bus ... Jacob zooms in and out, juxtaposes, crops. The figures work well as delivery systems for her dialogue, at times generating a deadpan humor, like the clip-art ciphers in David Rees’s Get Your War On ... the medium is part of the magic of Good Talk. The old comic-book alchemy of words and pictures opens up new possibilities of feeling.\
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"... wrenching ... Divided into 13 emotionally stunning chapters, its gorgeous blue-gray ink washes evoking the New England winter, Off Season is a revelation ... a seamless contemporary take on economic despair, political confusion and the challenges of parenting.\
RaveThe New York Times Book Review[Schrauwen\'s] latest...is a slim but potent volume of linked and mangled autofictions, with delirious color chords you only find in dreams ... things slide toward gibbering insanity until Schrauwen concludes with a deadpan tribute to his art form ... everything seems up for grabs, from sexuality and physics to the rules of storytelling itself ... says one interstellar explorer ... \'The audience, wherever, whoever, and whenever it is, will be captivated by my space adventure story.\' What nerve! And yet it’s true.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe magic in Berlin is in the way Lutes conjures, out of old newspapers and photographs, a city so remote from him in space and time ... At times Lutes bridges his characters’ disparate story lines with dreams, fleeting thoughts and scraps of mass media. In this way Berlin invokes the polyphonic techniques found in such modernist works as Ulysses ... Anyone who’s watched 10 minutes of the news in the last two years will feel the tug of relevance in these pages ... From its topical concerns to its appendix of historical notes, Berlin screams Important Graphic Novel. And it is: Lutes is incapable of drawing a lazy panel. His scrupulous style makes everything from the font of a store sign to a parlor wallpaper pattern worthy of study ... It took me weeks to get through, at times backtracking in order to clarify who was who, always returning at last to a greater appreciation of Lutes’s vision and humanity. In the last pages, the book pitches suddenly, violently forward through time, as though to meet us — an ending so electrifying that I gasped.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewAll the Answers works best as an account of an improbable life, with a peek at America’s bygone celebrity culture and unquenchable thirst for entertainment. There’s also a fascinating propaganda angle to consider: Three of the four main Quiz Kids were Jewish, as was the producer Louis G. Cowan, who (Kupperman theorizes) used the show to humanize the Jews in the thick of World War II ... For an artist known for his off-kilter tableaus, this book has a static look, especially in its rendering of boldfaced names from the past. More problematic are the gaps: mysteries unsolved, re-creations that collapse under the weight of a disclaimer ... Beginning his project in frustration at his father, he ends in frustration with the project itself.
RaveThe New York TimesDrnaso is an ace boundary technician... With his fluid framing — fitting anywhere from two to 24 panels to a page — he dictates information delivery, allowing the mind to breathe. His drawing style is at once poetically attuned to details of neighborhoods and interiors (the lit canopy of a gas station at night, the banquette at an antiseptic diner) and deceptively plain when it comes to the people who inhabit them. Figures are airtight yet textureless, with eyes like pinholes ... Drnaso subtly suggests that the current climate of constant horror, weaponized by hashtags and spread by autofill, has its seeds in the fall of the Twin Towers and our response to the tragedy. It’s a shattering work of art.
PositiveBookforumMathews, who died last January at eighty-six, has given us a disarmingly gentle last act in which real conflict is absent for chapters at a time. Dialogue clumps together, with lines from different speakers snuggling in the same paragraph. The stakes seem low, even nonexistent, as when a character frets over whether her friend will know how to support a partner on the dance floor ... Or is Mathews up to something else? ... as the disconnected stories fuse into a shocking whole, and the true identities of certain characters come to light, a murderous, literally oedipal rage overwhelms the sanitized life of New Bentwick ...The ratcheting of the drama does feel sudden, but perhaps we’re witnessing a Scriabin-like late style, \'utter simplicity\' masking \'mind-boggling complexity\' ... Perhaps The Solitary Twin works best as a kind of jolly death pact, an unconscious and serendipitous collaboration between these two old friends-slash-dignified-weirdos. Ashbery’s line of praise, his only remark on a book in which \'John\' proves to be a phantom, a crutch, a construct, reads like a knowing wink: \'I believe this novel is his finest.\'
RaveBookforumPresent in every scene, Maxine is a single mom and a quasi PI—in Pynchon’s words, a ‘Certified Fraud Examiner gone rogue.’ A case involving certain shadowy transactions leads her into Matrix territory, first to a virtual world known as DeepArcher, a sort of Second Life avant la lettre, then to the Deep Web, the ‘endless junkyard’ of the Internet, beyond the reach of search engines, and toward a ‘horizon between coded and codeless,’ where even the dead might live again. But it’s the living, breathing details of Upper West Side life, circa 2001, that give Bleeding Edge its humor and its heart … After the towers fall, and after immersion in DeepArcher, even the real world feels less real. Pynchon slips a note of unease into his droll description of that first post-9/11 Halloween, when ‘not even people who said, ‘Oh, I’m just going as myself’ were authentic replicas of themselves.’
PositiveSalonSlim enough to gulp down in one sitting, On Chesil Beach could double as an effective pamphlet on the benefits of premarital couples counseling … When Edward manages to say, ‘I’m so happy here with you,’ and Florence responds with ‘I’m so happy too,’ the mirroring sentences show that they’re both trapped, on an island the size of a bed, in an ocean the size of a life. All their previous conversations cannot help them, and with frightening swiftness everything is on the verge of ruin … On Chesil Beach is...meticulous in its specificity of time and place. The historical coordinates aren’t simply important, but indeed are integral, to the success of McEwan’s project.
MixedThe Los Angeles TimesAs committed as Cronin is to this brave new world of mortal combat and stunted technology, he's even more concerned with making his characters recognizably human. The first 250 pages are nearly flawless. Set slightly in the future, it weaves an intricate but always compelling story … Honing in on vampires' traditional immortality, The Passage initially has the lineaments of a morality tale. The middle third begins with a dizzying series of enticing documents, found material that lends a human touch to the far-future setting. But soon enough, The Passage slips into a less-exacting version of the voice used earlier, and the narration often feels portentous and slack. And, although the effect of omnipresent fear can be enhanced by keeping the Other as a murky object of anxiety, it can also defang the creature in question.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesThe inventive scenarios make such potentially dry material come alive ... The bravura structure and ideas [in 'Story of Your Life'] are in the service of character and story; the excitement of first contact and the intellectual thrill of deciphering a completely foreign tongue can never erase a mother's loss. The toggling of time frames and the unexpected variety of verb tenses keep 'Story of Your Life' a living thing, fresh and surprising, akin to the semagrams that Chiang so lavishly describes. In this way language itself becomes a life preserver.