MixedBookforum[Stone] was always accepting assignments because he was almost pathologically restless and because he tended to procrastinate on the promised big productions. The nonfiction can show him at his most playful ... Only the inclusion of \'Coda,\' written two years before his death and never before published, is an editorial mistake. It is rambling, mawkish, and seems to be addressed to his \'small, loyal band of readers on whose love I have lived.\' ... I don’t even want to believe he wrote this.
MixedBook Post...a swift, abrasive, seemingly merciless book about the horrors that await us in our very near future ... David Wallace-Wells, speaks American, as Don DeLillo would say, or the well educated, articulate, ironic, vaguely amused, capable-of-being-engaged-yet-not-really-caring variety of American ... Right away, on page 6 actually, Wallace-Wells sassily and sincerely identifies himself just so you know there’s no need to feel guilty about anything. He is not an environmentalist ... A bit later comes this announcement: \'In the course of writing this book, I did have a child …\' Rather vaingloriously put, perhaps, but once again reproduction is presented as the path of optimism ... This frothy, possibly even deranged enthusiasm, is front-loaded at the beginning of Uninhabitable and reappears only at the end when Wallace-Wells speaks of the new stories, the new metaphors and parables that our children (and their children’s children of course) will employ as they journey through the sparse and bony future ... Stylish jacket aside, the catchy title, The Uninhabitable Earth, is a bit of a misnomer because Wallace-Wells envisions the earth still inhabited by the likes of us, just nothing else ... Wallace-Wells’s major suggestion though is that we demand policy change. Which is so...quaint ... Uninhabitable is a text for the informed and the secularly comfortable. Reading it can make you feel bad but not bad enough to tear yourself apart. The cake was baked while we were eating pie.
Tatyana Tolstaya, Trans. by Anya Migdal
RaveBookforumTolstaya is divinely quotable—slangy, indignant, lyrical, crude. She picks you up—you’re light as a feather—and carries you along. You’re blown this way and that, cuddled and cast down, mocked and treasured. You don’t know where you’re going. None of it makes a lick of sense. It’s all detritus. It’s all sublime. The important becomes unimportant ... It is difficult to convey the gaiety and breadth of Tolstaya’s witchy craft.
PositiveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewRussell is no coy or mannered mistress of the freaky. Much of the pleasure in reading her comes from the wily freshness of her language and the breezy nastiness of her observations … A grim, stupendous, unfavorable magic is at work in these stories. They are not chicly ironic or satiric and certainly not existentially or ethically curious (though punishment for childhood cruelty is pretty much self-inflicted and eternal in ‘The Graveless Doll’). The innocent do not fare well, not the funicular ticket girl in the title story nor the obedient boy attempting to deliver an all-important window in an unworldly blizzard over bone-strewn prairie … Many of the stories are marvelous, but the collection is marred by the inclusion of the overlong and uncharacteristically sentimental ‘New Veterans’...and the rather mundane tale ‘The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979.’
RaveBookforumThis is, unfortunately, not a terrific title—too arch, and a puzzling prompt for a reader unfamiliar with the style and delights of Berlin’s tough, joyous, and slantwise sensibilities. Lydia Davis, in her excellent foreword, speaks of the 'buzz and crackle' of Berlin’s stories, her companionable and engaging voice, her clarity and unpredictability. Davis finds her writing 'exhilarating.' And it is. It’s swift and real. She is never mannered, never false or corrupt. She serves up perfect slices of life’s pie on clean cracked plates.
PanBookforumThis—seeing herself as a suicide-loss survivor first and foremost—is the most egregious aspect of the book ... Sue, we don’t find you responsible for the massacre at Columbine High School. But we don’t want to hear any more about your survival mechanisms, or your work on behalf of 'brain health,' or your gastrointestinal issues, or the feeling you had on the day Dylan was born that a big dark bird of prey was passing overhead ... We just wish you hadn’t written this offensive, self-serving, mendacious mephitic book.