RaveNew York MagazineRush, who won the National Book Award for Mating, in 1991, has written a book that’s its equal, with a wonderful balance between the interlocking arcs of its plot ... Part of the privilege—and the burden, of course—of being an American is the complexity of this moral position, power being exerted in your name, learning how to live with it, or not. There’s no one writing who shows more insight into this question than Rush—and it’s never been a more interesting question ... Another quality that makes his books so charged is that Rush doesn’t shrink from describing the inequality and distortions of sexual relationships ... Implausible as some of the plot developments seem to be, Rush’s amazing rendering obviates the need for suspension of disbelief.
MixedNew York MagazineA Ken Burns documentary in the form of a novel, featuring a full syllabus of American history from 1940 on, with a double major in classical musicology (emphasis on voice) and electives in nuclear physics and mathematics and the fate of Eastern European Jewry in the Holocaust ... The premise has promise, but Powers has taken a shortcut to making them singular—he’s made them gifted. A sizable fraction of the book is devoted to superlatives about Jonah’s talent ... There is also an often cloying soundtrack of historical heavy breathing ... And too often in this weepy novel, one is alarmed to discover that the lump in one’s throat is actually a large, semi-digested wad of mismatched images—metaphorical miscegenation, still and always a sin before God and copy editor ... The emotion in this book often seems to have a borrowed, air-guitarish quality. There’s passion here—too much, probably—but it’s finally a novel of received ideas.
MixedNew YorkIf Dylan sometimes seems pinned to a storyboard, it’s because Lethem seems more interested in describing the contents and principles of this childhood universe than in any of its specific occupants. The tone is simultaneously explanatory and elegiac, catalogued and mythologized … There is a near-inexhaustible supply of surprising verbal formulations, and the book is a lot of fun to read. But for all its postmodern point-of-view shifting and time-traveling trickery, The Fortress of Solitude, built as it is on a charming if somewhat squishy foundation of nostalgia, is in many ways a more conventional book than his last one … Lethem contrives to fire all the various guns that were hung on the wall in the first act, settling scores and accounts, fitting each character into an intricate master plan. But all the pyrotechnics are more like a salute to lost Dean Street than like a dramatic crescendo.
PositiveNew York MagazineBurnham and Holmes are two sides of the coin, creatures of the new metropolis, using American energies and know-how to radically different purposes … Larson is a talented writer with a gift for surprising language, and an admirable impulse to show and not tell. The book whips back and forth from character to character, anecdote to anecdote, building plenty of momentum in the process … Larson has balanced beauty and terror, the genius and flaw of the modern city. The book is a parable, a kind of one-liner—is there always a devil in the white city?
MixedNew YorkMiddlesex is a melting pot in which anything and everything – stylistically, historically, genitally – can be put to some use. But it's like a game of cards where everything's wild. The book is eventful, unpredictable, eager to entertain, but missing the tension a more disciplined approach would have provided … It's a relief, at page 215, when Calliope is born and takes center stage at last. The book accelerates as the heroine – think of someone in a barrel, that strange body, heading toward a waterfall – moves inexorably toward as complicated an adolescence as one can imagine.