PositivePasteIn The Guide’s nearly three hundred pages, there are abundances of irony, rage, and deft lancings of every hallowed centrist icon. What you will not find is distance. The Guide is written in the voice of someone who is earnestly offended by the meathook fancies of the twenty-first century. The book is credited to the polyamorous mind-meld of Biederman, Christman, Menaker, Texas, and James, but the overwhelming tone is Matt’s hectoring, erudite, Midwestern anger ... Unsurprisingly, the strengths of Chapo the Show are the weaknesses of Chapo the Book. If you listen to the podcast at all, you quickly realize the subject matter is unrelentingly grim. Yet Chapo Trap House is delightful listening, because the intensity of healthy hatred is cut with surreal bantz and outlandish bits ... The book reduces the splendid chorus to a single cutting voice. The fireworks and push-pull tone are removed to a knowing, insightful narrator who is resolute in informing you how doomed everything is. The show is vulgar, friendly, human, and hilarious; the book is merely hilarious and informed. There’s hope in the show, little in The Guide. But if you love Chapo—and if you don’t, you should—then by your own logic, you must love The Guide as well.
MixedPasteI don’t want to be hard on Shaffer, nor judge his work too politically. He’s an artist of solid ability, whose talents in characterization and narrative are obvious from this novel. But I can’t help but wonder, What was the point of this volume? ... The reality is that no scene inside the book quite equals the Jeremy Enecio’s art on the cover. There’s a moment where Obama and Biden team fight a biker gang, however, and that comes close. Obama finished his second term. I finished this book. Neither one of us got quite what we expected.
MixedPasteRagnvald must choose between a pair of kings; it’s a real My Two Dads scenario of murder on the ice. During these passages, Northern life is depicted in brilliant flashes as golden wolves prowl beneath the waves. The novel’s strength lies in its insights about Viking folkways, and Hartsuyker succeeds in capturing the Northmen’s mindset. Desire and vengeance feed an omnipresent shadow of violence that lurks over every gathering, like it must have during the Golden Era of the Vikings. But same element which gives The Half-Drowned King its curious appeal—its proximity to the ancient sagas—also makes it a boring read .. The entire narrative has the hazy blur of legend, sacrificing specificity for an ambiguity that coats its audience in a quilt of names and strange words. A lover of Viking culture will feast freely; all others will be found wanting ... Reading The Half-Drowned King is like riding in a longship to raid: the cargo might be worthwhile, but the journey requires patience.
PositivePasteThere is an immediacy to related experience that casts rumor and exaggeration into distorted shadows. How many words have been written about 'No Woman, No Cry,' and how pale do those stories look when the actual circumstances of its composition are related? The outlines of Marley’s well-known life history are present in this book. But here, like in a historical novel, we discover new details. Marley is not a demigod here, but an unwanted boy who fell upon the gift of brightening the world ... So Much Things to Say reveals a Marley of flesh and blood who passed too young in a world that was never too old to learn. 'In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty,' the singer said, and there is water aplenty here. Drink and be satisfied.
RavePasteThe author’s fondness for the dusty, gritty parts of filmmaking jives perfectly with the film’s eye for the sandblasted parts of American life ... the other half of the story, what Thelma & Louise really meant, is the real draw of Aikman’s book. It’s the tale of American feminism, and in particular, the story of how women are mistreated in Hollywood...Aikman’s gift is to take the sexism of Los Angeles and quietly, without fanfare, make the perpetual privileging of male filmmaking a concrete fact for the reader ... Off the Cliff is inspiring in the way the best speculative literature is: it shows what would be, could be, if women were allowed their own stories.
PositivePaste...a delightful, punchy anthology about the possibility of, well, alien life. And while its writing can be dry, the volume makes up for it in fascinating substance ... While there are no standouts, there are also no lightweights. Everybody carries his or her weight, and the science is as limpid as you could want. This project was designed as carefully as a NASA voyage, with writers referencing one another’s chapters. Essay complements essay and theory is weighed against theory like plates of overlapping armor. The result is that Aliens reads in the tradition of Victorian popular science; it’s confident enough in its audience to treat the reader like a grown-up.
Ed. by Catherine Burns
PositivePasteI found it a problematic business to review this new book. Not just because it’s a series of spoken monologues in printed form, thereby depriving the reader of important clues of tone, posture and context. Indeed, I am conflicted about the quality of this anthology. I found myself deeply moved half of the time, with some variation of the words 'I will remember this for the rest of my life' echoing inside my head...On the other hand, it would be inaccurate but not incorrect to describe All These Wonders as being This American Life meets Ivy League admission essays. It would be mean-spirited but not wrong to say the book reveals the kind of humanity Lena Dunham and high-profile ad agencies would invent in collaboration ... In view of this, I give three-quarters of All These Wonders my highest praise, and the remaining quarter a curt dismissal.