PositiveThe New York TimesChief among the pleasures of John Henry Days is the zest with which Whitehead nails the world of pop-commerce publicity and its paid disseminators ... John Henry Days is funny and wise and sumptuously written, but it\'s only rarely a page turner. There is very little story to speak of beyond the pageant, the scripted performance, of the eponymous event ... Whitehead writes compellingly about John Henry himself, about the first black folklorist to investigate his legend and about a midcentury blues singer who is induced, via drink and dollars, to cut a recording of \'John Henry\' ... Unfortunately, in his pursuit of the exhaustive, Whitehead also serves up an unremarkable bio of Paul Robeson ... Just when you\'re about to give up on the book, though, you hit another of Whitehead\'s outstanding comic riffs ... Again and again, you hit passages of wry and largehearted descriptive prose that are the clearest measure of Whitehead\'s achievement and promise as a writer ... Whitehead manages, what\'s more, to wrest from the book\'s essentially static structure a lovely, satisfying ending. John Henry Days may end up haunting you the way \'The Ballad of John Henry\' haunts its pages. The novel is an aleatory fugue on the difficulty of manhood in an age that measures a man by what he buys or what he wears, not by his labor, not even by his human decency.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewHere’s the story that Munro keeps telling: A bright, sexually avid girl grows up in rural Ontario without much money, her mother is sickly or dead, her father is a schoolteacher whose second wife is problematic, and the girl, as soon as she can, escapes from the hinterland by way of a scholarship or some decisive self-interested act … Runaway is so good that I don't want to talk about it here. Quotation can't do the book justice, and neither can synopsis. The way to do it justice is to read it … Which leaves me with the simple instruction that I began with: Read Munro! Read Munro!