PositiveBookforum... the confessions, insights, despair, and pique in Highsmith’s journals match, if not surpass, those in the diaries of Susan Sontag—who, twelve years Highsmith’s junior, was her near equal in terms of prodigious output and shambolic lesbian love life ... The alacrity on display in this meaty, opening segment of the Diaries and Notebooks is certainly surprising. Highsmith’s fondness for exclamation marks rivals a zoomer’s ... The resurrection of...little-known, charmingly monikered queer NYC boîtes provides its own ancillary pleasures; Highsmith’s detailing of her evenings out serves as a kind of stealth history of midcentury homo nightlife ... Although romantically and sexually active well into her senescence, she writes encomiums for her cats—exultant poems once reserved for girlfriends. As she ages, she grows more bilious, her political views more unhinged ... a furiously disciplined writer.
PositiveBookForumChief among the many astonishments of the Sontag diaries—which Moser excerpts and expounds upon at length, including entries that have never been published—is the extent to which they reveal the commanding, valiant public figure at her most defenseless, often emotionally devastated by her female lovers...and consumed by how good or bad she was in bed ... With Sontag, Moser intelligently brings together both public and private, onstage and off-. His scrutiny of her essays, fiction, films, and political activism is clear-eyed, his analysis of her tumultuous affective life sympathetic (if at times slightly less astute). Sontag offers a thoroughly researched chronicle of an unparalleled American figure and the institutions tied to her ... It is deft and sometimes dishy (especially succulent: the details of a brief affair with Warren Beatty) ... Sontag rescues Sontag from further inanity, reminding us of the majesty of so much of her writing—even (especially?) that composed by someone who endured (and later inflicted) extreme debasement.
PanBookforum\"... a bumptious book-length profile ... This grandiose style works well—or can work well—for a text in the five-thousand-word range; it exhausts and exasperates when deployed in a book close to three hundred pages (I was depleted after the first paragraph). It is also jarringly at odds with that of the writer being lionized ... This straightforward reporting arrives as balm, both dishy insight into Eve’s rarefied circles and a welcome respite from Anolik’s excitable neo–New Journalist tics ... [In one passage, Anolik] is narrow-minded, condescending, and sanctimonious.\
RaveBookforum[Egan] brilliantly reinvigorates familiar conventions. Manhattan Beach is a fleet, sinuous epic, abounding with evocative details, felicitous metaphors, and crystalline historical assessments ... In some of the most searing sections of Manhattan Beach, Egan details Anna’s appetites—for sex, for a seemingly impossible career—and the blunt stupidity that thwarts her or demands her silence ... Egan seamlessly zooms out and in throughout Manhattan Beach, a novel that magnificently captures this country on the brink of triumph and triumphalism, its ideology contingent on the vigorous enforcement of its various caste systems.
RaveThe Village Voice...the accretion of pungent details ensures that this tiny volume will persist in the memory. Putatively provisional and raw, many of these notes and immediate impressions, technically not even a first pass, have the crystalline lucidity of Didion's best prose, sentences that, as the critic John Leonard once put it, 'come at you, if not from ambush, then in gnomic haikus, icepick laser beams, or waves.'
PositiveBookforum...fiction that nimbly renders complex lives and inner tumult without pieties or clichés ... In addition to sharp acknowledgments of racism's corrosive effects, Collins's broader discussion of race in these stories amplifies that found in Losing Ground: She is ever alert to the sentimentality that attaches to narratives about black life, a mawkishness that obscures and dishonors hard truths.