RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewJess Walter has fashioned his eighth novel, The Cold Millions, out of the free speech riots that erupted in Spokane, Wash., in the early years of the 20th century ... Walter dramatizes the melee and its aftermath with a lively cast of characters both invented and real ... Walter’s latest novel is more hybrid beast than those earlier books: not quite fiction and not history but a splicing of the two, so that the invented rises to the occasion of the real and the real guides and determines the fate of the invented ... The Cold Millions ends as a eulogy for a certain kind of man: white, fair-minded, nonideological, inclined toward the sidelines. Had Walter inserted a time machine into his book after all, and flown Rye to the current year, it’s hard to imagine even someone so innately neutral looking on passively as history comes for him, too.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe prospective thrill of a new novel by the iconoclast Lionel Shriver is located here, in anticipating the skewing of pieties, your pity be damned ... Her 15th novel, The Motion of the Body Through Space, is certainly no wilting lily. The dialogue is barbed and the characters immediately at odds ... I am enormously sympathetic to unsympathetic characters, and I greatly admire Shriver’s willingness in the early going to have other characters push back on Serenata’s absurd and caustic misanthropy. But when the exposition shifts out of neutral and into permanent alignment with Serenata’s perspective, the other characters lose their potency as viable sources of objection and enlightenment — and not for Serenata alone. They turn into straw men ... the reader, too, slowly comes unmoored ... The novel is good at establishing the us-versus-them mentality of a long marriage ... Throughout The Motion of the Body Through Space, I was desperate to do one of two things: to extend my sympathies to Serenata, or to watch as Shriver served her up as harshly as Serenata herself would have ... And Shriver’s sympathies, so clearly and uniquely reserved for Serenata, restrain her from real daring ... I kept thinking: Who cares? ... There is a provocative argument running through this unrelentingly didactic book, which posits that extreme sports might be a kind of white sickness ... I found it ironic, and lamentable, that Shriver did not deal as boldly with Serenata as she does with her race.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewNothing is believably conjured to life in Bottle Grove. No spell is cast, no character takes root in the reader’s heart. Captive to Handler’s cleverness, to his allusive play and lack of rigor, the reader tries to make sense of the proceedings, to no avail. Even as Handler stacks elision upon lacuna to paper over his plot holes and sudden narrative swerves, the whole house of cards grows more absurd, irrelevant, cloying and rickety. What’s worse, many developments follow an old sad sexist script. Padgett is a pawn. She is, among a company of literal \'call girls,\' pimped out to the titan. That she doesn’t appear to mind is inexplicable. Handler even suggests that this makes her love Martin all the more ... What on earth is a man justly celebrated for the books he writes under the name Lemony Snicket doing playing at rape? I couldn’t determine. One thing is clear: Throughout Bottle Grove, he is not in control of his larks and allusions. He’s simply having fun at his characters’ expense, and at the reader’s, too.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewI was uncertain as I read these early pages. Had DeLillo created a world of pure abstraction where the reader would be left to float in the zero-gravity chamber of the death fable, everything to think about and nothing to latch on to? But this is only one of several canny feints in the book, which continually shape-shifts and reimagines itself. In the end, it all adds up to one of the most mysterious, emotionally moving and formally rewarding books of DeLillo’s long career.