PositiveThe Boston GlobeTaibbi’s polemical style (including a screed against President Trump) occasionally weakens a story that speaks eloquently for itself ... The best hope, paradoxically, may be the sheer number of police-brutality episodes captured on video over the past few years. More Americans are rethinking their inclination to give police the benefit of the doubt. Taibbi would surely argue that, if a turning point exists, it remains on a far distant horizon. Readers who come to the end of this impassioned, deeply pessimistic account will understand why.
Karl Ove Knausgaard, Trans. by Ingvild Burkey
MixedThe Boston Globe\"Unlike the daunting volumes of My Struggle, these pieces are tailor-made for brief attention spans. Readers may miss the leisurely unfolding that, in the novel, somehow led them along for hundreds of pages, without quite going anywhere. To the extent that nothing happens, Knausgaard taught us how to read him as we went. The same small-bore exactitude and refusal of grand conclusions mark Autumn; so do the familiar Knausgaardian emotions of exhilaration and estrangement, anxiety and shame. But Autumn can feel frustratingly truncated, as though, just as you settle into a thought, the baby needs attending ... Even more than in My Struggle, he seems to inhabit every age simultaneously: He is boy, adolescent, and father at once ... Knausgaard continues to cast about for moments of illumination. If hard truths insist on hiding in the deep, these essays suggest, a hand-line will do as well as a drift net to haul them in.\
PositiveThe Boston GlobeReaders who would dismiss this as a First World problem should probably find another book. Those who abhor name dropping should find another island. But for anyone who has ever been curious about life on the Vineyard, or fantasized about settling in, Blais offers a diverting portrait ... Her portrait of her late father-in-law [Kennedy administration lawyer Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach] is perhaps the most engaging part of the book ... Throughout, Blais exhibits a veteran reporter’s instinct for even-handedness. She resists turning her beloved island into a gauzy paradise.
J. Courtney Sullivan
PositiveThe Boston GlobeWhat follows could become standard fare in the hands of a less talented writer. But Sullivan’s assiduous layering of details brings her characters warmly to life, demonstrating that a shared experience can still be a singular one ... Sullivan’s attempts to create convincing back stories occasionally miss...but such false notes are few.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeSome readers will doubt these materials add up to a book. But one line of Didion is worth 10 from almost any other writer. Now that Didion is in her 80s, admirers will appreciate the chance to fall, once more, under the spell of her prose. The voice here is classic Didion: intimate, yet preternaturally detached, as though her matchless ear bears witness from the beyond ... California animates her like nothing else, refracting her consciousness wherever she touches down. In 'California Notes,' part II of South and West, she writes: the West 'is simply what looks right . . . I am easy here in a way that I am not easy in other places.'”
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
MixedThe Boston Globe...a book that movingly portrays believers’ early struggles while leaving certain mysteries frustratingly intact ... Ulrich likens her approach to a patchwork quilt, but while the metaphor is apt, readers may find it hard to keep track of who’s who — and especially of who is married to whom ... She is after fresh insights on how plural marriage arose and was put into practice, but the documents she mines are often maddeningly opaque ... How they remained so devoted to its patriarchal structure, and its demands for submission, is an enigma that perhaps no one can pierce. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has not explained these resourceful women so much as rendered their belief more miraculous.