RaveElleIn an era when predatory male sexual behavior has finally become a topic of urgent national discourse — I personally consider it a public-health issue! — Erica Garza’s Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction makes for a wild, timely read ... The common thread was Garza’s compulsive need to feel sexual humiliation and shame, and her destructive quest took her from California to Italy and New York City, to London and Hawaii, Thailand and Bali ... Garza eventually got the real help she needed, immersing herself in a mix of Eastern and Western religious and therapeutic practices and meeting a man she was ready to honestly share herself with.
RaveElleCharged with erotic energy and an almost mystical yearning, Jamie Quatro’s debut novel, Fire Sermon, is a tour de force exploration of lust, marriage, longing, and love. Quatro, who wrote the rapturously received 2013 short-story collection I Want to Show You More, moves even deeper into the brave territory she exposed in those lavishly praised stories, exploring the tensions that play out when heightened sexual desire, intellectual frisson, and having one’s beliefs tested meet the quotidian routines and rewards of work, family, and faith ... Quatro’s special magic as a writer is her ability to illuminate and intensify Maggie’s secret (and ultimately finite) love affair so that it seems to resonate across decades of Maggie’s life, continuing to shape and inform her even as her marriage endures, her career thrives, and her children grow into adulthood. Incorporating a mix of narrative styles from epistolary to confessional to flashback, Fire Sermon is a virtuosic portrait of flesh-and-blood sensuality and the mystery of salvation.
RaveElleIn her latest novel, Danzy Senna bores into the dynamics of race, identity, heritage, poverty, and privilege in contemporary America, exposing the pride and promises of change therein, as well as the pitfalls and pathologies. Agile and ambitious, the novel is also a wild-hearted romance about secrets and obsessions, a dramedy of manners about the educated black middle-class—the 'talented tenth'—that is Senna's authorial home ground ... Senna is a master at unmasking the conflicted psyches as well as the societal pressures of her high-achieving yet vulnerable characters.
RaveElleMaile Meloy's Do Not Become Alarmed will keep you up all night, compelled by the book's twisty plot and seductive, tightly wound suspense, and afterward it will just keep you up ... [Meloy] is interested in delivering more than just a first-class international literary intrigue. She ups the ante by focusing on the inherent racial and class issues that inform the story ... No one escapes the novel unscathed, but Meloy's message about the privilege, and naïveté, that Americans of means enjoy is unmistakable. It gives this fast-paced thriller, with its alternating adult and child perspectives, an extra layer of complexity.
RaveElle...[a] brilliant graphic memoir ... a wondrous panel-by-panel archive of the interplay between her rapacious intellect and her expansive imagination ... It's Radtke's quietly erudite, observant language that grounds her intricate and dramatic drawings. But maps, photographs, medical charts, newspaper clippings, and a free-floating Sharpie embedded in the almost 300-page book enhance the storytelling as they surprise and delight.
RaveElleLike Mark Twain and Toni Morrison, Heller has a rare talent that hooks both literary and commercial readers. The book's irresistible suspense springs from the dynamic between his elegant, visionary imagination as it immerses you in the wilderness of the American West and its sleek-and-scruffy small towns, and his unerring instinct for writing classy, edge-of-your-seat, page-turning whodunits ... Heller handles scenes and scenarios that guide and haunt Celine's interior life with masterful, emotional, and action-packed strokes, making her one of this year's most unforgettable characters. It's as if Heller took the tender yet tough-as-nails personality of writer Annie Proulx and cast her on the page, in all her plainspoken, intellectually impeccable, deeply wise—and wise-ass—glory ... Heller creates a breathtaking canvas against which his taut, twisting storytelling unfolds. There is a shimmering quality to his sentences when his characters are out in the elements, exercising their human ingenuity alongside the inscrutable workings of the natural world, in all its beauty and danger.
PositiveElle...[a] voyeuristic cultural history ... Racy and fun, Wolfe's dossier exposes the Valley as a high-tech playground, populated by workaholic millennials coding for driven, primarily male moguls, and by wunderkinds lured there by the call of like-minded brainiacs and the promise of big bucks—and of maybe participating in a polyamorous bang-fest or two in a mattress-strewn converted warehouse ... Wolfe's entertaining and intensive look inside this aspirational, transformational, and transgressive lifestyle is both celebration and cautionary tale.
RaveElle...a wildly brilliant, radically candid, and rigorous daybook of her life-changing, last-resort journey ... The 30 entries in A Really Good Day range from tales of her professional work supporting legal efforts to decriminalize weed and other drugs, to poignantly personal reveals about spirituality, something missing from Waldman's upbringing.
RaveElleThe stories cast a lively, emotionally penetrating eye on the lives of the urban black middle class in the 1970s and '80s. They make you ache with the powerfully felt sense of real people who value racial parity and collaboration, the aims of art and the necessity of commerce, fearless conversation and creative isolation ... Sensuous and immediate, the 16 slim, elliptical stories are built upon elegantly captured moments in the lives of black, white, and mixed-race characters facing family misunderstandings, existential doldrums, marital impasses, romantic conundrums.
RaveElleWith mischievous, Dickensian glee, Chang's prose power-drives the appealingly dysfunctional family, now a disgrace to the wet dream of capitalism, through their postfall paces ... Chang's confident, broad-stroke, and go-for-broke style makes her fresh twist on the American immigrant saga one of 2016's must-reads ... You will laugh your ass off while learning a thing or two about buying into, and then having to bail on, the American dream. But mostly, you'll get to savor, thanks to a wildly innovative plot twist, the secret heart of this diabolical dramedy: how it's love, not money, that really makes the world, and all the people in it, go round.
RaveElle...[a] fiercely brilliant, must-read exegesis ... This book invites you to reset your thinking. It makes you feel empathy for the Kardashians and other celebrities who seem to be famous simply for being famous—women you may have dismissed as ridiculous and unenlightened ... By placing the spectacle of the trainwreck front and center, Doyle throws down for the future.
RaveElleMagnet Carter qualifies as a full-blown saga, with historical scope and a literary heartbeat, and uses the trajectories of its characters' lives from 1941 to 2010 to illustrate the human cost of America's legacy of slavery. It's daring, poetic, and unapologetically political ... in addition to being political [it] is also funny, emotionally capacious, and dramatic ... Equally central to the stark political, racial, and socioeconomic realities of Corthron's vision are the striking poetics of her language, which mixes erudition with vernacular with bold imagery, all beautifully cadenced.
RaveElleHeroes of the Frontier also functions as a sly, sophisticated, and infectiously entertaining commentary on America's loss of moral, political, and social courage—themes native to Eggers's work that he explores with ever more generosity, giddy mischief, and resolve. For sheer wit and wile, Eggers's novelistic sensibility achieves Twainian heights here in his rendering of America's aptitude for courting faith while creating folly, and yet somehow still sticking the landing.
PositiveElleCleverly crafted chapters form a glittery, boisterous month-by-month calendar of the 'annus mirabilis…the busiest, most creative, most innovative, most interesting, and longest-resounding year' of an era that produced music we are still listening to.
RaveELLEStephanie Danler's Sweetbitter (Knopf)—boasting a confident first printing of 100,000 copies—dresses the bones of a classic coming-of-age story with the lusty flesh and blood of a bawdy early twenty-first century picaresque...[Tess's] insatiable hunger for tactile, sensual satisfaction dares you to tag along. The journey is high-minded and dirty, beastly and bountiful.
RaveElleLucia Berlin's electrifying posthumous collection A Manual for Cleaning Women is a miracle of storytelling economy, showcasing this largely unheard-of writer's genius for streetwise erudition and sudden, soul-baring epiphanies. Set in the American Southwest, California, Mexico, Chile, and New York City, these darkling narratives—about women struggling with addiction, low-wage and blue-collar jobs, romantic entanglements, and single motherhood; or youngsters coming of age amid family chaos and dislocation—mirror Berlin's own life.
RaveELLEThe visionary liberty and daring with which Dana Spiotta has crafted her brilliant new novel, Innocents and Others (Scribner), is both inspirational and infectious...she delivers a tale about female friendship, the limits of love and work, and costs of claiming your right to celebrate your triumphs and own your mistakes.
RaveEllean intricately structured and gorgeously spun whirligig of a memoir.