RaveThe Seattle TimesThis attentiveness to detail, to the subtle rhythms of living, is what lends an elusive clarity to the lives of his characters and the societies they inhabit ... Even though Ishiguro’s narrators often dissolve into their surroundings to facilitate a \'fly on the wall\' type of storytelling, the power of his writing lies in the moments where it is suddenly clear to the reader that the narration is not omniscient, and rather, filtered through a very particular perspective ... Ishiguro’s newest work of speculative fiction joins recent shows like Westworld and novels like Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me and Ted Chiang’s novella The Lifecycle of Software Objects, which depict societies where ethics have not evolved to accommodate advancements in artificial intelligence ... The strength of Ishiguro’s fiction isn’t necessarily the questions his novels raise, but the way his characters relate to one another as members of their time and place. Klara deftly illustrates the existential distress of a postindustrial world, the malaise of an existence mediated by technology, but also all of the most basic aspects of being human that remain unharmed in such a setting.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesComposed of short, fragmentary paragraphs, bite-sized cultural observations, and jokes cloaked in multiple layers of irony, No One is Talking About This is a novel about social media that replicates its chaotic form, granting readers access to the inner mind of someone who is very online ... In a cultural moment that almost defies satire in its own self-evident absurdity, No One is Talking About This doesn’t present as parody. Written in the suffocating, disjointed prose of social media, Lockwood’s novel evokes the sensation of scrolling as it reads: moving from inane observation to obnoxious joke to occasional gem of social commentary ... No One is Talking About This does not end the way the trajectory of the first half of the novel might suggest. There is no real meditation on the emotional or interpersonal effects of the social media environment she helped to create. Instead, the contrast of the novel is meant to speak for itself by presenting two alternate styles of living, neither of them comfortable, but one infinitely more human than the other.
RaveShelf AwarenessWith The Inland Sea, Watts has produced a model of autofiction in the age of climate disaster, a genre sure to dominate the coming era. The motivating logic of the novel rests on a conflation of internal and external emergency that would likely ring true to many young adults. As the novel develops, it becomes clear that this is not a purely solipsistic device but, rather, a reflection of the permanent place the climate emergency holds in the minds of those who have grown up contending with its brutal realities ... Introspective with a febrile realism that borders on the surreal, Madeleine Watts\'s The Inland Sea is as evocative and haunting as works by Samantha Hunt or Ottessa Moshfegh.
Mercè Rodoreda, Trans. by Martha Tennent
PositiveShelf AwarenessThe style of Garden by the Sea is slow, observational and oblique, never strident ... Although the changing relationships of the vacationers is what moves this book\'s plot along, they become almost ancillary to the way that early 20th-century Catalonian class-politics are subtly articulated through the gardener\'s observations. The patient, eloquent and often digressive prose of Rodoreda, who wrote in Catalan, provides an aesthetic experience on each page that assembles itself bit-by-bit into an unforgettable novel ... Dark, comedic and written in lush detail, Garden by the Sea is a compelling portrait of the affluent vacationers of the beautiful Catalonian coast of the 1920s.
MixedThe Seattle TimesBy weaving together a composite of group psychological theory and political history in the trademark, rigorously logical style of Vox’s Explainer series, journalism, Klein traces the path of polarization ... Klein is astute in diagnosing the agitation and protection of identity as the primary driver in the polarization of politics; we guard our identities fiercely (even trivial ones), an unconscious or preconscious precaution rather than an intellectual one. But it is important to ask: How much does this reading of politics leave out? Klein’s willingness to cede autonomy to group psychology resolves in a neat, unified theory because it downplays the friction that culture, history and social frameworks have on our behavior ... Klein gives little attention to the venue where our most fractious, hyperpolarized arguments over identity occur: the internet ... The incentives of this structure have proven their ability to change our brain chemistry, which doesn’t seem like a coincidence in our current political era, in which Klein argues we are more polarized than ever.
PositiveThe Seattle Times... [a] compelling memoir-ethnography of Silicon Valley ... Wiener reflects, though never absolving herself of blame or fault. Her book is an attempt to unravel the mythology that has insulated big tech from meaningful assessment or oversight, but the book leaves readers with more questions than answers ... The future is a dark, unsettling frontier, and Uncanny Valley is a call to vigilance and action.
RaveShelf Awarenessblack hair proves to be a rich symbol for interpreting the insidious politics of race and class that play out each day in the lives of black Americans. Flowers\'s stories do not attempt to mask the harshness of poverty and racism, and they do not romanticize hardship. What Hot Comb does instead is celebrate the devotion of black mothers, the creativity of black children and the ingenuity inherent in the black experience. This is a deeply impressive debut and belongs on the bookshelf between Lynda Barry and Claudia Rankine. Ebony Flowers is a cartoonist to watch
RaveShelf AwarenessMade up of essays, short fiction, excerpts from her novels and bits of memoir, this collection is thoughtfully curated around the titular concept of a journal not kept ... Consistently perceptive with a wry humor lurking just beneath the surface, The Journal I Did Not Keep is a joy to read