MixedThe Los Angeles Review of BooksJasanoff often uses historical context to deepen her reader’s understanding of Conrad’s life and fiction … Indeed, Jasanoff is less attentive to the literary qualities of Conrad’s work than to its political and economic background. Her approach is quite valuable, but, inevitably, fills in only part of the picture. Jasanoff neglects the pulleys and gears that bring Conrad’s fiction to life, just as she minimizes the sort of intimate detail that animates most biography … With her clarifying historical perspective, Jasanoff gives us an account of the life that made Conrad’s inimitable writing not only possible, but necessary.
Mary V. Dearborn
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksDearborn’s poised and elegant account is compelling because of her clarifying, sober, and calculated restraint, which serves to diminish much of the mist ... also cites relevant Hemingway scholarship with tact and discrimination, skillfully integrating into her narrative the work of people like Charles Fenton, Mark Spilka, Matthew Bruccoli, Philip Young, and others ... At the emotional center of Dearborn’s chronicle are the complicated strands of Hemingway’s personality, beginning with his enormous self-confidence ... Dearborn tells the sad story of Hemingway’s later years with intelligence and grace.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Accidental Life is one of the most engaging books on editing and contemporary writing I’ve read this year ... McDonell has befriended many of the writers he edited. The result is the sort of exact detail and emotional resonance that creates depth and credibility ... The book shines when McDonell describes writers in conflict with dominant American values ... the book’s grace is a function of McDonell’s clear and unpretentious style.