RaveBarnes & Noble Review\"[To the Lighthouse] becomes the fire that fuses the sand of Smyth’s personal memories into perfect glass ... In All the Lives We Ever Lived the prose is buttery, performing culinary magic on difficult ingredients. Literary criticism has rarely been this pleasurable to read, or as imperative ... [Like Woolf, expressing the richness of human experience] is Smyth’s genius too ... no future book on grief and reading fiction ought now to be contemplated. Because All the Lives We Ever Lived has definitively, and beautifully, consumed this particular scheme.\
PositiveBarnes & Noble\"There is no question Wheeler is smart. He is up to taking on New Mexico’s once grand hopes for success — and their desiccated remains today — on a prominent stage ... But by the rules of assured command of a chosen form, Wheeler’s prolixity sometimes seems the product of someone who doesn’t quite trust himself. So he says more about more, occasionally repeating it for emphasis. He’s that friend at the bar, admittedly astute and entertaining, who a few beers into the evening is manically rafting the endless rapids of his own stream of consciousness ... Acid West aims to make the point that something about the clarity of its air and the view it permits to galaxies beyond ours, or its dry sands, or the people who can take it and make it there, clarifies something both simple and complex about America: it’s messed up. But in some really interesting ways. Let Joshua Wheeler show you just how much.\
RaveThe B&N ReviewPollan corrects the misapprehensions by performing his signature trick on both the history and current status of study on LSD, psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT (the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad). As in his previous books...there are few corners of the matter into which he doesn’t peer ... Hippy-dippy claptrap has long attached itself to psychedelics, remedied here by Pollan with plenty of quotation from eloquent and moving personal narratives, including his own ... those frequent reports of a mystical sense that the ego has exploded or that one has merged with the infinite/nature/all-encompassing love: the DMN has simply gone \'offline.\' It’s where our stories about the \'I am that I am\' reside. No wonder temporary freedom from that short leash feels ecstatic. So does reading a book this generous, fascinating, and necessary. It’s enough to get you high.
RaveThe Barnes and Noble Review...a nearly perfect embodiment of the ways paradox constitutes the most compelling art. The novel sparks with matchstrikes of humor and stares down sober questions. It is a romance and a speculative fiction and a philosophical inquiry. It’s also a delight to inhabit, a literary structure so cleverly wrought you search in vain for signs of the epic labor that had to have gone into its sills and stairs ... The novel is constructed as a postulation, winding its way along a double helix of narratives stretching from past lives to future society. Each step brings the reader to a turn affording double views ... The plot itself is built expressly for the purpose of carrying a doubled load: the story is also about the nature of stories; the book is about reading this book ... Pierce’s novel maintains an exquisite gyroscopic balance between sentiment and idea, postmodern self-referentiality and science fiction’s nostalgia, gee-whiz plot points and elemental human cares.
Marcel Proust, Trans. by Lydia Davis
PositiveThe Barnes and Noble ReviewSo a newly discovered cache of letters, as slender as Proust’s great creation is fat, gives occasion not to resubmit Proust’s talent to the artistic calipers for yet another measurement, but to discuss the writer’s need for quiet ... Yet mysteriously they collectively form a work every bit as rich as an epistolary prose poem, or a novella, or the singular form of brief story of which translator Lydia Davis... The writer’s suffering and solitude make a far more resounding clamor on the page ...deceptively slight collection of letters, recently unearthed in a Paris archive, evokes similarly lavish wonders ... Lydia Davis’s elegant translation, too, begets complex considerations.
MixedThe Barnes & Noble ReviewCott’s project is to rescue Sendak’s masterpiece from its parentally sidelined position in his oeuvre and at the same time give a popular makeover to its recondite treatment by various academic sects. The striven-for effect is casual dialogue on heady ideas; the book consists of lengthy transcriptions of interviews with particularly knowledgeable interlocutors. The reader is meant to feel like a fly on the wall...Don’t get me wrong. There is a satisfyingly great mystery here. It is one about how a deceptively simple work transcends the very explanations it begets. In other words, the mystery of art itself. If one or two of the thousand ships of inquiry launched by Outside Over There run aground (a bit much Jungian ballast in the hold), Maurice Sendak still provides the widest ocean of imagination to freely sail.
RaveThe Barnes & Noble Review...an intricate mélange of propulsive thriller and sophisticated character study, narrated à la mode from shifting points of time and place and dusted lightly with supernatural suggestion ... the mise-en-scène is full of vibrant visual detail, the characters are idiosyncratic, and the climax is as heartwarming as it is unexpected — Tinti’s novel seems premade for the screen (so long as the cinematic realization is in the hands of a director who can somehow channel Hitchcock, Michael Curtiz, and Ingmar Bergman) ... The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley displays such a high degree of polish any trace of the maker’s hand is removed. Every sentence perfect, every circumstance layered with meaning, effect, intrigue, and forward motion. Can a writer be too good?
Joyce Carol Oates
RaveThe Barnes & Noble ReviewOates considers the origins of writing in voluminous detail and via every type of critical approach — review, reconsideration, instructional, public address, introduction — just as her scores of other books range exhaustively over genres and forms ... Oates is precise and thorough, erudite and all-encompassing. A substantial part of Soul at the White Heat comprises book reviews of such contemporaries’ work as Coetzee, Lorrie Moore, McMurtry, Erdrich, Atwood. To their appraisal Oates brings to bear every other book she has read, it seems, and that is a lot: there is little in the western canon that has escaped her omnivoracity ... Oates set out to prove that writing is as personal as it gets.
RaveThe Barnes & Noble ReviewHis book itself takes the form of a highly evolved yet reverse-engineered work, reuniting disciplines that over time became separate. Here, philosophy harks back to its origins as poetry; Godfrey-Smith, who teaches philosophy of science, is a clear-eyed and elegant writer. In turn this quality reflects, as always, an elegance of thought. Poetic, too, is the use of compression on his subject. In around 200 pages (minus notes) the author runs through a stunning array of material ... As Godfrey-Smith puts it in eminently graspable terms, life feels like something to the individual ... That is the foundation of sentience. How, why, and when that occurred for any given species is in the record — in this glorious profusion of biological fact. The philosopher asks us to consider that what is true for us is not to be taken on faith, nor to be assumed true only for us. The strength of Other Minds is its insistence on empirical evidence — and therefore its preparedness to question even it.
RaveThe Barnes & Noble ReviewWith Nutshell McEwan has accomplished a small miracle: a well-wound thriller inside something bigger, a variegated meditation on folly, on the insistent untenability of this world to which we have given birth even as it gives birth to us, on the ability of art to encapsulate its mysteries.
MixedThe Barnes & Noble Review[Roach's] book could have been titled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About War but Were Afraid to Ask. (And it could have been made vastly better if someone had cautioned her about the wearying effect of reading footnote after footnote constructed on an identical plan: even more awe-inspiring fact followed by rimshot joke) ... her primary aim is to entertain, to set us loose with a handful of ride tickets in a giant amusement park of thrilling facts. It is not to build an argument, although one hovers unsaid in the background: Stop and think. What is this expensive, amazing ingenuity for?
MixedThe Barnes & Noble ReviewJunger writes soberly, at times with angry despair, about a fractured society ill equipped to restore the hearts and minds, the essential humanity, of those we’ve sent abroad ... Sebastian Junger’s aim, on the other hand, is to militate, not against the military but against our fractured society. Good luck with that. Yet even though his case is brief — it contains elaborations loosely stitched onto a 2015 Vanity Fair article — it is persuasive. That doesn’t mean it’s possible ... Tribe is a sketch of a book. Its most important points are artillery rounds, coming in so rapidly there’s little time to do more than take cover.
RaveBarnes & Noble ReviewImagine Me Gone fulfills its considerable ambitions. It touches greatness, and its seamless interleaving of the deeply personal with the widely collective is one reason...Haslett’s peculiar talent is to fuse the high to the low, the sardonic to the profound, cultural critique to human feeling, to achieve a seamless, polished whole. Imagine Me Gone accomplishes a complex feat, bringing close that most distant personality, the socially detached depressive, while giving the specificity of his guilt tangible weight.
RaveBarnes and Noble Review[Bakewell] is here at once a neighborly presence and scarily in command of cerebral magnitudes. She consumes with ease a vast menu of some of the most undigestible theory ever served up (so we don’t have to) — Husserl, Kierkegaard, Heidegger — then delivers elegantly compressed postprandial recaps. Many readers will identify with her admission of scholarly failure, though not with her subsequent mastery of a dizzying amount of literary, political, historical, and philosophical knowledge.
RaveThe Barnes & Noble ReviewStrange Gods, in the end, proves more than is not only timely; we needed it, like, yesterday. Fail to understand the crisis facing separation of church and state—'a historical and a legal fact for which [the religious Right] should fall on their knees and thank their god'—and twenty-first-century America will be Alexandria all over again.