RaveHyperallergicJames gives a full, intriguing, detailed history of the island’s colorful visitors and expat residents ... In addition to his nuanced analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of South Wind, James goes into detail about Douglas’s life, including the people he knew and which writers have been influenced by his work. James possesses the rare gift to be able to do this: he is both bookish and a world traveler ... James can pivot from a description of the landscape to a subtlety gradated literary analysis, to a piece of unfounded gossip, to a trial record reported in a French newspaper, all in the service of presenting a fuller picture of his subject...I never felt disinclined to follow him, nor did I think that he was wandering off the subject. This is what is remarkable about Pagan Light ... James has an encyclopedic knowledge of his subjects at his fingertips: he seems to have read the most obscure and hard-to-find books and articles on his subjects and, more importantly, is able to present what he has dug up in precise, gorgeous prose ... all the translations in the book are credited to James, a feat in and of itself.
RaveHyperallergic\"Each of the short chapters precisely details a specific moment of realization, however wayward and, at times, harrowing, that the author experienced on his bumpy, digressive path to becoming a writer. The result is a beautifully composed, accumulative portrait of Tuten at different stages of his young life ... What’s remarkable... is Tuten’s ability to transport you back in time ... For Tuten, there were not two roads diverging in the yellow wood. There was only the one he took: the one that he looks back upon and writes about brilliantly and tenderly.\
RaveHyperallergicLeaving the Atocha Station is not another conventional, autobiographical novel told in the first person. For one thing, Gordon is too unreliable and self-lacerating, too given to exaggeration and lying, too addicted to prescription pills, and often too stoned to be considered remotely trustworthy … Leaving the Atocha Station interrogates the familiar claim to sincerity that propels autobiographical narratives toward their Chrysalis Moment, where the narrator, the ‘I’, experiences a cataclysmic realization on the road to Damascus (or Darien), and emerges a changed being...If this ‘I’ ever existed, it is one that Gordon, Lerner and this reader at least have seldom if ever, experienced … Without being escapist and retreating into a world without terrorism or inequality, and without making outlandish claims regarding significance, Leaving the Atocha Station is fresh, funny, disturbing and, perhaps best of all, a pleasure to read as it meditates on language, poetry, the internet and the unavoidable dislocations.