PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... not a lengthy book and can be read in several hours. But it packs a punch way beyond its weight. Images from its pages linger—a dark telling of a devastating tale that deserves a place alongside The Reader by Bernard Schlink. Schlink’s novel is another tale of post-Nazi Germans attempting to reconcile themselves with the national guilt still experienced from their Nazi past.
RaveNew York Journal of Books...a memorable read that will be celebrated extensively both by the general reading public but also by anyone associated with the theater, as well as those fascinated by or working in any aspect of the writing process ... Parisian Lives is extremely readable; you feel you know areas of Paris as well as she does, and she writes with evocative detail ... powerful and heartfelt ... The gift Bair gives us in Parisian Lives is a direct and knowing contemplation of the works of two literary giants—and the circumstances of their lives as they were written. Her memoir radiates that same honesty about her life and work.
Carolina De Robertis
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a gem of a novel, shining in every creative facet. The skill with which author De Robertis weaves the story, not only of the five protagonists amid the bleak and joyless repression the Uruguayan authoritarian regime in the 1970s, but also how she counterbalances that repression with the group’s varied efforts of political resistance and the mystical power of their escape hatch, a shack on an isolated beach near Montevideo, is memorable. If this book were an opera, De Robertis would be deafened by curtain call after curtain call. It is, to say the least, a most memorable page turner that carries a siren call of hope ... The sweep of Cantoras is vast, spanning decades with chilling insight into the regime’s worst human rights abuses and the psychological numbing of the protagonists’ ability to live their ordinary lives in the city within that cruelty ... De Robertis’ prose is breathtaking, you gasp for more and more she gives you. Her characters are fiery, devoted, flawed (like us all) sometimes with pettiness and ill-temper, but utterly convincing and fully alive. By the end of this magnificent book, we know them so well, we carry them with us wherever we go ... If this book were an opera, De Robertis would be deafened by curtain call after curtain call after every performance. It is, to say the least, a most memorable page turner that carries a siren call of hope.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksPaper Chains, despite its subject matter, is a well told tale ... As you read the novel, you...take pleasure in guessing how the author is tying all the pieces together, perhaps too neatly. The characters and their stories are treated with a Hollywood romantic drama and glow ... Despite the seriousness of much of the content that the book hints at, this is a quick read for the last days of summer. Well known medical conditions, both psychological and physical, are treated in a cursory fashion, and do not do much more than develop the plot. There are some compelling moments in the novel though and vivid imagery. It is a page turner. Moriarty knows her audience, and her audience knows her.
MixedNew York Journal of Books\"Despite the richness of Cander’s prose, in The Weight of a Piano she crafts a novel that staggers somewhat under its own weight and the weight it carries of its alienated and often alienating protagonists, Katya and Clara ... The book can become sluggish and stodgy in long sections. Without the piano, the novel is lightweight with standard fare characterizations. The inner lives of both Katya and Clara are generically portrayed. The men in the book are all stereotypical cardboard cutouts, except perhaps for Grisha who is unsympathetic and unnecessarily creepy. Author Cander is at her best in detailed descriptions of the piano and piano making, music in general, and the stark desolate beauty of the Death Valley landscape.\
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksUneasy because while this novel displays all the Allende hallmarks that made her famous — passages of eloquently expressed ideas, a love story set amid political turmoil, well-drawn characters — fundamentally it lacks cohesive plot tension to hold all the elements together. The novel moves in jumps and starts ...unwieldy structure that cuts across time periods and continents ... Evelyn’s story is among the best writing in the book. Allende uses her background in Chile and her admirable lifelong stand for human rights... Allende is a masterly writer when she writes of emotions, and especially of love ...a novel of the redemptive recording of oral history and also of healing love. The murder subplot is an unnecessary add-on.
Jennifer Finney Boylan
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksLong Black Veil by well-reputed author Jennifer Finney Boylan, although a page-turner, is a cumbersome read ...first chapters are akin to entering a maze, and as the book progresses there are more dead ends and false starts than any inkling of a clear path to the safe center. After several confusing chapters, astute readers may have the characters straightened out, but the hard work demands too much ...strongest parts of the book occur when Boylan writes from the point of view of the trans character who finds marginal redemption ... Boylan is a prolific and strong writer. At her best she evokes the hair-raising chills Joyce Carol Oates can. But this book is not her best.