RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn You Got Anything Stronger?, a collection of humorous, poignant and sometimes shattering essays, she wittily dissects and expands upon these public moments, tackling pain and feelings of inadequacy more forthrightly than you might expect from someone who appears so put-together ... however revealing Union is on her feed, she’s even more so on the page. Blurring the line between public and private, many chapters in You Got Anything Stronger? hinge on the very act of disclosure, the moments where Union relatably brings social media more in line with real life ... these essays reveal a keen awareness of the pressures of outside expectations, and of the necessity of pushing back against them to find happiness ... Union makes an offhand comment that seems to sum up her work as a writer and a public figure, a simple yet inspiring message about how she was able to find her way. \'The joy of connection in spirit that happens when you welcome in Black women—and don’t relegate us to holding up the wall,\' Union writes: \'That joy will change your life.\'
PositiveVanity FairAt the level of plot summary, Inland couldn’t sound any further from its predecessor—and like an incredible departure from the things that made The Tiger’s Wife so unique. But in Obreht’s hands, this tale of the wild west doesn’t linger on the landscape’s specificity in a way that can occasionally inspire purple prose ... Territorial Arizona is brought to life as something quite a bit more propositional: the punishing heat is the most relevant descriptor, and its effects are what the book’s characters fear the most ... Eventually, Nora’s desperate need for water fades into the background as conflicts with neighbors and a former lover grow more severe, and the complexity of the plot resists the answer that Obreht provides in the novel’s beautifully wrought final pages. But a thought of Nora’s after she has listened to a meandering tale herself captures the novel’s successes: \'They all had stories, didn’t they, just like this, interminable and essential to the world’s workings.\'
PositiveVanity FairCity of Girls is another meditation on that theme, a coming-of-age tale arrayed across a woman’s life that carries more of its creator’s own boldness than one might expect for a novel set 80 years in the past ... City of Girls is a testament to Gilbert\'s restless curiosity. She spent years researching the artistic scene of the city in the 1940s ... Their effect on the book is clear ... For anyone familiar with the lightness and the buoyancy of Gilbert’s own voice, the clunkiness of the period vernacular becomes a barrier to investing in the community at the heart of the novel ... Because Gilbert has a bewitching voice that comes through even when she is trying to mask it, though, City of Girls remains a vibrant novel about a woman balancing her desires with the age in which she lives.
RaveVanity Fair\"Pierce wants us to follow Jim all the way and come out with something profound, but not too worrying or blasphemous … Jim is our guide into the strangeness that lurks in the fringier edges of science, a regular guy who is drawn closer and closer to the extraordinary in his search for answers. It all happens against the backdrop of rapidly changing technology: sentient holograms that come to take over customer-service jobs and a machine that lets you talk to the dead. These are weighty subjects, but The Afterlives approaches them with humor, suspense, and even a little sex … The book’s pull comes from the mash-up of all the existential concerns a person might face. Each little piece doesn’t tell us quite as much as seeing them as parts of a whole does.\
RaveVanity FairRobert de La Rochefoucauld, the titular character in Paul Kix’s new biography The Saboteur, probably would have been a badass even if he hadn’t become a spy or lived through the worst of World War II in France ...Kix, an editor at ESPN The Magazine, explains exactly what it meant for La Rochefoucauld to be a saboteur ... In the book, he [Kix] answers that question and many more, painting a gripping portrait of a person whose bravery doesn’t allow him to succumb to the pressures of the day ... Ultimately, Kix found that writing about the life of Robert de La Rochefoucauld helped him understand more about the way the world has changed in the 21st century.
PositiveBroadlyGay has always mined her personal history for material without looking for pity or absolution from her reader, and while her spare, utilitarian prose could be conspicuously undecorated in her recent collection of stories Difficult Women, here it helps her avoid melodrama and the fundamental fallacy of writing about sexual violence ... It's an interesting twist on an American Dream story—less about what a person does to achieve success and more about the things that hard work and talent can't necessarily fix ... Because of her spare prose style, Gay has a tendency to reduce the views of her opponents or adversaries to unnecessary simplicity, and she is equally prone to making totalizing statements about herself, her likes and dislikes, and how other people see her. As a result, she often ends up being the one rejecting nuance. But it's more forgivable in Hunger—she is dealing with the tangible facts of her life ... she is an adamant voice for the world most others either ignore or fetishize, and Hunger shines when she focuses on the conditions, whether systemic or personal, that have created that world.