RaveThe New York Review of BooksOver the course of several juicy chapters, Birdsall traces Beard’s ascent into the elite of New York’s food-obsessed ... The Man Who Ate Too Much unsparingly dismantles the mythology of the jolly asexual bachelor gastronome ... a nuanced and absorbing portrait of an imperfect man, one who reshaped the way several generations of Americans thought about cooking and turned the lens of culinary appreciation away from canned truffles, Swiss Gruyère, and other ingredients imported from Europe and toward Kentucky ham, California wines, and the bounty of local farm stands ... Beard’s legacy is complicated. Among the many merits of Birdsall’s biography is the extent to which it illuminates not just the importance of this foundational American chef, but also the enduring force of his prejudices and delights.
RaveThe New York Review of Books... remarkable, thoroughly researched ... If you came to Furious Hours for a tell-all about Lee, prepare to be disappointed ... Even a reporter as meticulous as Cep can only do so much to pry loose facts that haven’t been widely circulated without crossing the litigious guardians of Lee’s estate. The Lee in her pages is the liveliest portrait we’re likely to get, barring the discovery of a memoir among her effects ... the center of Furious Hours is an absence of information, and the great, acrobatic trick Cep accomplishes is to deliver a book so richly detailed and full of thoughtfully condensed research without having access to any of its three main subjects ... Cep has a knack for a chapter-ending cliffhanger and building a sort of eerie tension ... Though her prose is sometimes weighed down by groaners, it is more often dexterous and animated. At her best, Cep manages the feat that all great nonfiction aspires to: combining the clean precision of fact with the urgency of gossip.
PositiveThe Christian Science MonitorThere’s no doubt that Aftermath is a work of narcissism, a deeply personal account of Cusk’s shattered marriage that leaves little room for her husband’s side of the story. But there is truth in this narcissism. As Cusk writes, in the depths of bereavement, seeing outside of yourself is nigh impossible … Aftermath is a way of combing through the debris after the storm passes. It is the dark ages after the barbarians have stormed the castle, the chaos when a civilization implodes. There is comfort in the wreckage … Reading Aftermath feels like being trapped in a trance. Cusk’s prose is heavy and atmospheric.
PositiveThe New RepublicGeltner’s biography, the first of any kind on Crews, manages to unearth the writer from the accumulated crust of legend and rumor ... Geltner dutifully covers Crews’s early life, but his retelling is, unsurprisingly, no match for A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, Crews’s searing memoir about his first seven years that represents the peak of his storytelling prowess ... The 'crazy party' stories in Blood, Bones, and Marrow—the time Crews showed up drunk at his lecture dressed as a gorilla, the one where he broke up with a woman by peeing inside her car, that day he passed out in a pool of vomit in the faculty lounge—begin to blur together after awhile. Through the fog of alcoholism and self-destruction, what comes into focus is his remarkable output ... Throughout the book, an obvious warmth for his subject shines through, though Geltner doesn’t let it interfere with the thoroughness of his reporting. If there is a fault in Blood, Bones, and Marrow, it might be that it is a bit too thorough—reading it, you sometimes wish Geltner had excised passages about outside players in the Crews story to get back to the main event. It’s a small complaint for a work that does real justice to a complicated, outsized literary figure.