RaveThe New Yorker[A] remarkable début collection ... So is hardly given to stoic silences. The young people in Afterparties spill forth with language ... So skillfully conjures the rhythm of conversations ... It feels transgressive that Afterparties is so funny, so irreverent, concerning the previous generation’s tragedy ... His sentences are brusque and punchy, and there’s an outrageous, slapstick quality to his scenes. But the stories often end on a haunting note, resonating with the broader consequences of leaving or staying.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss
PositiveThe New Yorker...the book isn’t really about the Warriors’ style of play or their place in N.B.A. history. It’s barely about basketball. It’s essentially a workplace drama revolving around thirty or so incredibly wealthy and psychotically competitive people—players, agents, management, ownership—united in professional purpose yet also seeking their own versions of personal fulfillment ... While Strauss clearly loves the sport, he also treats the N.B.A. as a reflection of the \'Darwinian contest\' prized by American society, and writes about it without romance ... Strauss is interested in workplace culture, decision-making processes, and hierarchies, and he carefully maps the web of intermediaries and liaisons between players, their teams, and their business interests ... Strauss is stubbornly professional, refusing to apologize—how would he be able to continue doing his job if he folded to attacks? He writes about his brush with Durant with a kind of confidence, not in a way that feels vengeful. But it’s striking how secure he sounds compared with Durant, who has become a poster child for the melancholy superstar.
PositiveThe New YorkerSheldrake is in his early thirties, a biologist who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. But his evangelical zeal for the fungal world makes it plain that he’s drawn to the weirdness of it all ... His book recounts the requisite tales of champion truffle hunters, psychedelic adventurers, his own love of home-brewing beer ... What might we learn, Sheldrake asks, from the \'mutualism\' and coöperation of a seemingly brainless organism? ... \'How best to think about shared mycorrhizal networks?\' Sheldrake wonders. \'Are we dealing with a superorganism? A metropolis? A living Internet? Nursery school for trees? Socialism in the soil? Deregulated markets of late capitalism, with fungi jostling on the trading floor of a forest stock exchange? Or maybe it’s fungal feudalism, with mycorrhizal overlords presiding over the lives of their plant laborers for their own ultimate benefit.\' ... None of these attempts to fit fungi into the logic of our world are entirely persuasive. Perhaps it’s the other way around, and we’re the ones who should try to fit into the fungus’s model ... or many, the pleasure of psilocybin is in giving oneself up to the weft of a connected world, and making peace with one’s smallness.
PositiveThe New YorkerAs an anthropologist, Zaloom is particularly attuned to how institutions teach us to see ourselves ... ends up being a story about modern families—about how we understand our responsibilities toward one another in a time of diminishing prospects. Sacrifice is nothing new, and guilt has mediated family relations for eons ... Zaloom’s book takes much of what we have come to accept and renders it alien and a bit absurd.
RaveThe New YorkerChildress brings acid humor and earnest conviction...as well as the insights and the fury of someone who once cherished the idea of a life spent on campus. He has an eye for the finer distinctions within academia ... He is witheringly accurate when describing the atmosphere of faculty-wide meetings ... Childress knows the outward academic scene; he also knows who is backstage, making sure that appearances are kept ... Childress has a way of reinvigorating familiar tropes ... In the last few pages of Childress’s book, the manifesto melts away, and we’re afforded a momentary glimpse of a deeply moving memoir. Childress describes his personal disappointment with a piercing honesty ... there is nothing more universal than the moment when Childress realizes that his was never a problem of drive or focus; the horizon was illusory by design, moving according to someone else’s whims, continually drifting out of reach.
RaveThe New Yorker\"Many of the ideas that animated Capitalist Realism and Ghosts of My Life course through the collection. But it is more casual than those books; it allows you to watch Fisher’s theories take shape as he recounts his day-to-day life—things he’s seen on television or heard on the radio ... There was a deliberate, almost prickly quality to Fisher’s writing and thinking that is rare nowadays, when criticism is more likely to involve open-minded rationalizing than steadfast refusal. He was not one to frolic in ambiguity or irony ... What comes across in [Fisher\'s] writing, almost overwhelmingly so, is his obsession with taking seriously what it means to have your mind blown. The most moving parts of K-Punk are those in which he tries to recover the ecstatic reverie of discovery.\
PositiveThe New YorkerLeibovich seems largely immune to the challenges around access and appeasement that many sports journalists face; he pursues his leads with the freedom of someone who’s embedding in the N.F.L. only temporarily. He writes with a brusque charm, training his eye toward features of the league that many longtime observers might take for granted or condition themselves to ignore ... At the same time, Leibovich is a fan like the rest of us, given to generic, often specious, and occasionally paranoid defenses of his cherished Patriots. As his book unfolds, though, his onetime ability to compartmentalize football and protect it from the nastiness of real life begins to melt away ... Leibovich’s nostalgia for a more innocent kind of fandom is upended, and football becomes another battleground in the culture wars. Leibovich just wanted to bond with Tom Brady. But he stuck around long enough to catch a glimpse into the league’s power structure, and it left him a bit queasy. He has a gift for sniffing out where true power lies, and his doggedness brings him to bathroom meetings among N.F.L. owners and sideline chats with the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell ... Leibovich ends up reporting on a closed-door meeting in which owners debate whether Kaepernick’s kneeling protest during the national anthem is simply a \'media problem\' in need of new imaging ... If there is a clear relationship between sports and politics, it might come down to whether you find yourself siding with labor or management: whether you think that a player should remain forever loyal to the first jersey he puts on; whether you view athletes as workers or just as people who should feel lucky to play a child’s game for a living.
PositiveThe New YorkerHawkins’s career has never reached the same heights as the rest of the Clan’s—a reflection of his relative level of talent, mostly, but also of circumstances of timing and personality. In Raw he displays an unusual degree of self-awareness about this fact. He describes how difficult it can be to maintain his craft and his confidence, a rare sort of candor in an art form typically premised on effortless cool. But the memoir’s most endearing moments involve the small victories that come with surviving into middle age and the momentary plateaus where Hawkins feels satisfied ... Raw feels cathartic, as Hawkins finds the language and perspective to reckon with his past. His moment in the spotlight may be over, but he now has something that few of his Wu-Tang brothers, still so admired by a younger generation, have: the distance to tell his own story.
RaveThe New Yorker...[a] wondrous novel ... His writing is confident and tranquil; he has a knack for making everyday life seem strange—or, in the case of Dear Cyborgs, for making revolution seem like the most natural thing possible. His writing is transfixing from page to page, filled with digressive meditations on small talk and social protest, superheroes, terrorism, the art world, and the status of being marginal ... It all seems quite random, yet there’s an intoxicating, whimsical energy on every page. Everything from radical art to political protest gets absorbed into the rhythms of everyday life ... After a while, it becomes clear that what propels the novel isn’t an overarching plot or a conspiracy but anecdotes, episodes, and fantastical interludes that point to the book’s guiding ethos. There are no answers, just an uncanny sense of what it’s like to be alive right now: constantly distracted, bounding between idealism and cynicism, ever conscious of the fact that we may never bring the size and complexity of our world into focus ... Many ambitious novelists will regard the deep divisions of the present and try to describe the substance, details, and passions of our times. But Lim’s novel feels more like a meditation on the possibility and virtue of protesting forces that feel overwhelming—of our capacity to tell meaningful stories about ourselves when we feel like the outcome is preordained.
PositiveThe New YorkerWhat emerges isn’t a different Marley so much as one who feels a bit more human, given to moments of diffidence and whim, whose every decision doesn’t feel freighted with potentially world-historical significance ... Steffens generally resists hagiography ... In contrast to other popular Marley books, in which every detail merely anticipates the singer’s eventual breakthrough, Steffens’s contribution is his nerdish monomania...Steffens is largely here to direct traffic. But his authority derives from exhausting every possibility.
PositiveThe New YorkerIt’s [the] occasional glimpses into Ratliff’s own idiosyncratic responses to music that are the book’s best moments ... The book meanders and muses, providing plenty of space for readers to wonder about their own fixations, to remain ambivalent about questions of genre or history and abide by their own deeply personal and far superior classification systems instead. It’s best to think of Every Song Ever as a series of moods and provocations rather than a book to be read straight through.