PositiveChapter16Right off the bat, and to its credit, Tracy Flick Can’t Win acknowledges Election’s fundamental ickiness ... more than just a hasty rewrite of an outmoded, potentially outrageous book. Perrotta loves nothing more than tossing characters into a moral deep end, sitting back and letting readers watch them thrash and splutter; this builds both sympathy and schadenfreude, since who among us can claim to have all the answers? We’re all damaged by the past, and we’re doing the best we can in the present. If nothing else, his latest book confirms what many of us have always secretly suspected. Adulthood, Perrotta suggests, is forged in the crucible of high school, and we spend the rest of our lives torn between trying to transcend our adolescent selves and trying to preserve them. In that sense, Tracy Flick is, despite her insistence, utterly ordinary, after all.
PositiveChapter 16...[a] pithy diatribe about the honing of the modern creative mind ... In this moment when teaching and learning methods are by necessity restricted, Newstok’s fascinating polemic is easier to read and appreciate if one takes it as it a description, rather than a prescription. As a concise history of Western pedagogical development, How To Think Like Shakespeare succeeds beautifully ... That educational methods are culturally (and politically) determined is hardly a groundbreaking notion. Newstok knows this ... Still, it’s interesting to be reminded of all the ways pedagogical ideals — as well as the hallmarks of an educated human being — have shifted over time. And who among us doesn’t benefit from having her intellectual blind spots probed, questioned, and revealed.
RaveChapter 16... terrific ... much more than a triangular tale of grieving creatives in mutual thrall ... Though Oscar and Silas are vivid, richly drawn, and memorable, they never quite manage to compel on their own. Instead, they do what female characters have traditionally done in portrait after tiresome portrait of the artist as a self-centered young man. They’re helpmeets, vehicles, or (if you prefer) tools, and they’re only interesting in conjunction with Casey herself ... Writers & Lovers succeeds beautifully. By subverting a tired tradition, King ushers in a new era and shows us a thrilling new way.
PositiveThe Nashville SceneThough Vivian drinks like a fish and carouses like a sailor, though she falls in love and gets caught up in a scandal, the consequences of her behavior don’t ever add up to more than temporary discouragements. This is fine, of course (who says wanton women should reap what they sow?), but as Vivian spins weightlessly through the second half of the book, her devil-may-care persona begins to feel slightly more vapid than vivid. We don’t get the sense that she’s wiser or more hardened by having endured ... Vivian Morris keeps moving, and the things that happen to her are fascinating to watch. This, of course, keeps the pages turning, and City of Girls makes delightful summer reading. It’s a perfect muzzy-headed by-the-pool book, full of spectacle and glitz and reflected bygone glamour. Not until now has Gilbert aimed to write a book that was strictly fun; with this one, she succeeds beautifully.