Guillermo Saccomanno, Trans. by Andrea G. Labinger
RaveNew York Journal of Books...vivid atmospheric and visceral impact. Nothing is lost in this translation; the characters are fictitious but the political dystopia Saccomanno depicts is all too real ... Saccomanno’s atmospherics can also be as sensual as film noir, where everything is suggested, anticipated and all the more powerful in its impact. Gomez’s escapist sex life is thrillingly erotic. Gomez is both tragically real and hallucinatory on the page, fearful and courageous at once. Saccomanno vivid characters and the brutal truths of this era in Argentina is the searing backdrop of Gomez’s narrative. One or two plot twists in the final chapters of the book strike one as contrived, but even with some of its fictive devices, Saccomanno builds the atmosphere of fear, dread, and paranoia with a cast of believable characters trying to survive under the siege of Argentina’s guerra sucia, (dirty war). 77 is, among other things, a potent reminder of the gruesome paths of totalitarian dictators.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Castellani straddles a literary high-wire act, writing believable dialogue not only for Williams and Merlo, but other celebrities ... Williams’ readers will revel in Castellani’s stylish period atmospherics and arch dialogue of the celebrities in Willliams’ orbit—even though Williams careens from believable to vaporous in key moments. Meanwhile, the novel sweeps you up in its wry prose, particularly the fully dimensional portrait of Merlo ... Less successful are depictions of Williams in late life and the fate of Anja, now a retired film star, haunted by the past and her relationship with Williams and Frank. She is talked into staging Williams’ final unpublished play, which brings in new characters and some forced plot devises that start to grind. But past those forced storylines, Castellani delivers a touching, and often eloquent dramatization of one of the most legendary gay couples in theatrical history.\
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksIt is a rare arts journalist who can make reporting on the fiscal infrastructure of an opera company as interesting as the backstage dramas of directors, composers, conductors, musicians, designers and, of course, opera singers, but Wall Street Journal opera critic Heidi Waleson does just that ... Waleson’s reporting of the tumultuous history of NYCO is arts journalism at its best. And it should be a read as a cautionary manual of how to run, and not run, a performing arts organization.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksReynolds’ investigative analysis is a prescient reality check ... a vital almost up to the minute barometer of where LGBTQ civil and human rights stand ... [Reynolds’] style is one based on meticulous research and thorough sourcing that is a bit heavy at times, but this is vital documentation of the gay civil rights movement in our perilous times. That it comes out on the 40th anniversary of Harvey Milk’s death honors the work of a transformational politician and testament to his enduring legacy.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksVerdi’s life was the stuff operas are made of: sex scandals, political turmoil, creative pitfalls, testy divas, and meddling producers, but nothing stopped him from becoming the most famous opera composer in the world and an Italian national hero to boot. That he was able even to rebuild his life after the deaths of his young wife and two infant children is testament to his steely resolve. Music historian John Suchet’s chronicles the composer’s life and storied times in Verdi: The Man Revealed.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksIt is part ballet primer and a lively insider peek into the technical aspects and the enduring magic of the dance world ... Jacobs brings us into the creative, even poetic, realms of the dance and also, in concrete terms examines the origins and mechanics of ballet from its history in the court of Louis XIV, to the development of the pointe shoe and its transformational powers as the \'wings\' of a ballerina ... As accessible as Jacobs makes this history for general readership, Celestial Bodies is basically for students of dance and avid balletomanes.
Robert W. Fieseler
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Fieseler’s fully sourced research correct[s] the record of shoddy crime work by both the New Orleans police and federal investigators ... Fieseler condenses a lot of history of The Big Easy, which wasn’t so easy for everybody and its conflicted image as a gay mecca, but otherwise was a completely oppressed community. Tinderbox paints a vivid picture of the (in)visible gay community of about 400,000 strong, but where a gay person could still be arrested for even the suspicion of being gay or their names were printed in the paper if a bar was raided, people could be fired from their jobs, and routinely barred from many professions. Fieseler does invaluable investigative reporting of the social landscape of the era and writes with sensitivity about the many victims of the fire, their lovers, their families, their survival and the profound effect it had on GLBTQ community in NOLA ... Tinderbox is a reminder that this history can never be forgotten as the backlash against GLBTQ civil rights are once again under attack.\