RaveNPRA memoir with bite ... profiles the challenges of the 99 percent with humor, sarcasm, and wit ... shows us what it takes to become a fully realized adult — or at least this fully realized adult ... Hindman doesn\'t shrink from the big, systemic picture, but her fascinating personal story, with its unexpected twists, puts the memorable into this memoir.
PositiveNPRAllen uses this little world to explore larger issues of race, class, and gender. Writing primarily in the present tense, she gives us a set of characters who are odd and often lovable, characters who wrestle with sticky parts of their pasts and try to imagine life beyond Doc Bell\'s ... Entropy is at the heart of Tonic and Balm. More than constructing the show, the book deconstructs it, as if designed to shed characters at the same pace that Haydn\'s Farewell Symphony requires musicians to leave the stage. It\'s a tricky premise, but in general, it works ... The characters may disappear one-by-one from Dr. Bell\'s, but Miss Antoinette\'s strong, mysterious presence holds their reflections.
PositiveNPR\"McColl delivers thoughtful and finely crafted prose to vivify this emotionally intense relationship. From time to time, her writing becomes obscure as she tries to make sense of herself and Allison ... McColl may have her linguistic surfeits, but she should be applauded for unstinting efforts to put her heart on the page.\
RaveNPRAll may be allegory, but Extinctions gets its hands dirty with a real plot and realistic characters ... takes a hard look at the politics of adoption, cultural appropriation, loss, deracination, and professional frustration, without Wilson letting up her fictional grip ... [Wilson] writes with great intention, calling upon us as individuals and as a society to change.
Craig Morgan Teicher
PositiveNPR\"We Begin in Gladness is well worth reading for its celebration of the art, and for placing poetry as a necessity in today\'s frenzied society—where dystopian fiction sells well, and too few people take time to read. Teicher\'s examination of poets\' artistic maturation is an engaging topic. If his conclusions are informed by his own taste, we can appreciate him as a generous guide through his chosen profession ... There may be readers who would prefer to have had more background threaded through Teicher\'s thoughtful examination of the poetic life. The presumption that poetry is a language of common parlance would be welcome if true. But alas, it is not.\
MixedWashington Independent Review of BooksThe hero (or anti-hero) of Aaron Jacobs’ The Abundant Life is Alex Wolf, a Jewish boy who goes rogue as a teenage gunrunner, does hard time, and returns home to — not much. Meet his struggling family: Mom’s a bleeding heart working in a homeless shelter; Dad’s a gambler and a business failure; and little sister Rachel’s greatest aspiration is to leave home for college. Where to find money? The credit-card debt is too deep to see the bottom, and the house, of course, is a health hazard ... Author Jacobs needs to prune his clichés and deploy fewer ordinary turns of phrase. His writing can be choppy and convoluted. What he does deliver, however, is humor. Alex’s cynicism is unrelenting, but fortunately, he can laugh at himself ... Character development? Not really. Big ideas? Nah. Call this book madcap, call it screwball, and you would be right. Read The Abundant Life for entertainment and for a plot that defies reality; that is, if we weren’t living in 2018.
RaveNPR\"I have dog-eared too many pages to close my copy of Kiese Laymon\'s Heavy: An American Memoir. I found something noteworthy on almost every page ... This is a memoir to read and reread, as Laymon recommends readers do with all books of significance ... Dear white people, please read this memoir. Dear America, please read this book. Kiese Laymon is a star in the American literary firmament, with a voice that is courageous, honest, loving, and singularly beautiful. Heavy is at once a paean to the Deep South, a condemnation of our fat-averse culture, and a brilliantly rendered memoir of growing up black, and bookish, and entangled in a family that is as challenging as it is grounding.\
Eric Vuillard, Trans. by, Mark Polizzotti
PositiveThe Millions\"Poetically translated by Mark Polizzotti, the book shines a light on the industrial titans and politicians behind Hitler’s might. With chilling precision and moral authority, Vuillard draws a straight line between the marching orders Hitler gave to Germany’s moguls, and the Anschluss ... Vuillard’s language is beautifully and economically crafted; his judgments raise crucial questions.\
Luce D'Eramo, Trans. by Anne Milano Appel,
RaveNPRFinally, 39 years after its debut, comes its first-ever English edition, vividly translated by Anne Milano Appel ... This devastating chain of experience cannot be told in linear fashion. The story must \'deviate,\' as the memory and weight and brutality of D\'Eramo\'s past unfolds in bursts ... If we appreciate Karl Ove Knausgaard for his introspective tenacity, then we must genuflect before Luce D\'Eramo ... It is not simply D\'Eramo\'s personal story, but also her ruthless quest for self-knowledge, that render Deviation a literary tour de force.
Ed. by Arjun Singh Sethi
RaveNPRAmid the ugly realities of contemporary America, American Hate affirms our courage and inspiration, opening a roadmap to reconciliation by means of the victims\' own words ... Read American Hate for the faces Sethi puts on our national hate epidemic, and for his sobering account of the fallout—humiliation, terror, injury, and death. But read American Hate, as well, for what the last chapter terms \'Hope in a Time of Despair.\' Hate may be rampant in America, but so are its antidotes: We must understand and own our history. We must speak out, for in community is power and love.
David A. Kaplan
PositiveNPRIf you aren\'t a regular on the Washington cocktail circuit or a subscriber to SCOTUSblog, this material is presented at a level of granularity with which you may not be familiar. It makes for engaging, if not reassuring, reading ... Kaplan\'s discussion of Bush v. Gore is particularly elucidating in explaining the competing postures of state and federal courts that resulted in George W. Bush\'s first inauguration. Chapters such as \'Runaway Court,\' \'Revenge of the Right,\' and \'For the Love of Money,\' leave no doubt about Kaplan\'s views on the wisdom of judicial restraint; he\'s for it. He does us a favor by pointing out the hypocrisy of originalism ... In the final chapter of The Most Dangerous Branch Kaplan asserts that \'if the Court is to become a less dangerous branch,\' Justice Roberts \'has the opportunity, the temperament and maybe the skill to make it so.\'
RaveThe MillionsWashington Black is a terrific new narrative about enslavement, but that description fails to do it justice ... In its rich details and finely tuned ear for language, the book creates a virtual world, immersing the reader in antebellum America and Canada as well as in Victorian England ... the trek is fraught with danger and thoroughly engaging. Edugyan captures the Arctic so artfully, you want to reach for your parka to stay warm ... More important than travelogue, however, is Washington Black’s interrogation of human attachment ... refreshing in its oddities and unconventionalities.
RaveNPR\"Chee\'s writing has a mesmerizing quality; his sentences are rife with profound truths without lapsing into the didactic ... In his new book, he circles back from his last book, the epic Queen of the Night, to further mine his inner core with a refreshing candor that poses answerless questions and owns misjudgment and uncertainty ... Chee is a very special artist; his writing is lyrical and accessible, whimsical and sad, often all at the same time. No doubt he is an inspiring writing teacher as well.\
PositiveNPRRausing's core message is this: Addiction is a family affair. Her book embraces those surrounding the addict by courageously exposing her own self-doubt and heartache ... Rausing's narrative is delivered in disjointed, non-sequential fragments. Single sentence paragraphs complete sections for emphasis; hers is a jagged presentation that seems intended to mirror addiction's mayhem ... Rausing places her experience within a broader context. She considers Amy Winehouse, she cites Patty Hearst. She highlights America's opioid blight to remind us that addiction is not solely a family affair, it's a societal pathology.
PositiveNPRA crisply written page turner ... Deploying the same precision with which he documents Grimes' prison life, Rachlin recounts the arduous and complex work to move the wheels of justice. 19 years after Grimes' arrest, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill to establish an Innocence Inquiry Commission; Chris Mumma's fingerprints were all over it. Read Rachlin's Ghost of the Innocent Man to follow the twisted path that led Chris Mumma to pick up Grimes' file, ultimately exposing the use of outdated photos to mis-identify the perpetrator, the failure to fingerprint relevant parts of the crime scene, exculpatory evidence destroyed, contorted "science" involving a single hair, and more. But don't read for the gripping story alone. Willie Grimes spent 24 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit, while the real perpetrator continued to offend. Shouldn't we be better than this?
RaveThe MillionsWith compelling themes of displacement and reinvention, these stories push boundaries — probing race, class, sexual identity, and family; the role of women in Arab and American culture; and much more. In this collection, mythology meets reality, and Jarrar’s palette spans the world ... The thirteen stories in this collection blend humor with rage, wit with pathos. Jarrar presents an astonishing variety, each story as inventive as it is insightful. It’s a book for this oppressive electoral season, where presidential politics are ugly and destructive, and demagoguery is endeavoring to trample a core American truth: Our country’s strength derives from open borders. Jarrar is here with a correction.
RaveThe MillionsEleven Hours is crafted with the taut economy of The Understory, and with the same laser focus on human alienation. In fewer than 180 virtuoso pages, Erens knits together two women, two lives, two stories. Each woman has borne serious trials; each is detached from her family of origin, albeit for different reasons. Each has reason to worry about bringing new life into this world. They are together, but brutally alone. And yet for the duration of Lore’s hospital stay, their communion feels both necessary and illuminating. What passes between Franckline and Lore lifts them above despair, thrusting them toward life itself.