PositiveThe Washington PostEven now, during our culture’s most fractured time, Lamott remains a paragon of seemingly irreconcilable attributes and beliefs. A devoted grandmother and recovering drug addict, Jesus-loving Sunday school teacher and Guggenheim fellow, 12-stepping TED talker and small-town writer whose book sales currently top 4 million, Lamott is that rare bird, a progressive stalwart beloved in coastal cities and flyover hamlets alike ... Few writers can produce 12 advice books worth reading. But like its predecessors, Dusk Night Dawn delivers prose that satisfies literary as well as spiritual tastes ... Dispensing counsel cloaked in story, Lamott spins her self-deprecating ruminations into manna for the majority.
RaveChristian Science MonitorYou’ve got to read this new book by Francine Prose – and here’s why. The woman knows whereof she speaks ... Prose’s brain is no ordinary brain; her passion for the arts primarily but not exclusively literature – is no ordinary passion ... In each chapter, Prose curates her curation, telling us not only which books and authors to look at, but where in each of them to look for the choicest, most telling views ... Like the works it profiles, What to Read and Why has its flaws. Although most of her commentary is stunningly original, Prose sometimes tells us things we already know ... And like the works it profiles, What to Read and Why is a multi-faceted gem, appreciable on many levels.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle\"Through it all the reader holds her breath and flips the pages, enraptured by the magic Wolitzer makes on the page. Born of equal passion for her message and the characters she crafts to deliver it, The Female Persuasion, like all of Wolitzer’s novels, is timely, but also timeless. Headlines notwithstanding, it’s not that Meg Wolitzer is catching up to the world. The world, as usual, is catching up to her.\
RaveChicago TribuneThe contents of the essays, each preceded by a new introduction by the author, fleshes the outline out. The conclusions Orenstein draws are often unexpected, always brilliant. The confessions she extracts from her subjects are stunning ... Some essay collections are like some greatest hits albums: blatantly greedy attempts to re-sell what’s already been sold. Although Don’t Call Me Princess consists of previously published essays stitched together by current commentary, the book is more concentration than compilation — a satisfyingly succinct handbook of Orenstein’s incisive, witty and necessary observations.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle\"An American Marriage is that rare treasure, a novel that pulls you under like a fever dream, a novel whose pages you start to ration midway through, a novel you miss like a lover the minute you kiss its final page goodbye ... a searing, disturbing critique of America — the generational, geographic and gender gaps that rend even the most loving couples and families; the separate and unequal treatment of African Americans in the penal system; the lingering lash of slavery that still stings today. An American Marriage is a gripping, masterfully crafted message in a bottle.\
RaveThe Chicago TribuneOn these pages, Hodgman is as funny and as self-deprecating as ever, but also, deeply and hilariously, for real. Although he is a very fortunate man, the dotted line he draws between growing older and growing up will be familiar to any gloomily aging person — which is to say, anyone older than 17 ... Vacationland is an ambitious departure from Hodgman’s previous authorial endeavors. It’s funny, but it’s no joke. The book is a cleverly composed meditation on one privileged American’s life — and, glancingly, on America — at a crucial moment for both ... Reading [certain] passages, one can’t help but wince at Hodgman’s self-involvement. And yet, one can’t help but give him props for being so unabashedly, so ironically, and so entertainingly who he is.
PanThe Chicago TribuneGood advice, Bad Feminist. But — new advice? Not so much … I mention this not to preach ‘herstory,’ but to illuminate — constructively, not cruelly — the flaws that keep Bad Feminist from being the bigger, better book it could and, given its author's talents, should be … Also blunting Gay's points (and she does have points to make, important ones) is her seeming ambivalence about her own competence … There are scenes, pages, chapters in Bad Feminist that are so raw, so strong, so skillfully rendered, they make one wish the whole book was as good.
PositiveThe Christian Science MonitorFortunately for this reviewer, and for Paul’s readers-to-be, My Life with Bob is greater than the sum of its parts: a rollicking, intimate expedition through a brilliant booklover’s heart, mind, and life ... All too many memoirists of the female persuasion seem determined to preempt accusations of self-absorption by crafting themselves as excessively self-deprecating protagonists. Paul is one of them ... Despite this minor annoyance, My Life With Bob is a fun, accessible, well-written bookalogue.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorThanks to Shapiro’s tender mastery of her story and her craft – knowing when to dwell in detail, and when the bird’s-eye view will better situate the author’s own small experience within the species’ – Hourglass yields a rare combination of lyrical writing and startling, sometimes disturbing insights. Reading Hourglass is like spying on the slow, intimate dance of two imperfect, well-intentioned humans, moving through their devotion and their doubts, riding the quotidian tides of passion and contentment and antipathy.
PositiveThe Washington Post...an inventive, funny, fragmented clutter. Billed as a novel, it reads more like a linked story collection, with plots, timelines and characters that swerve and fold into each other. At its best, this form makes an effective container for a life that’s painfully disorganized. At its not-so-best, it creates redundancies that annoy rather than illuminate ... A stalled-out protagonist can grow tedious. But Attenberg’s gift for reducing her generation to its lowest common cultural denominator, then drawing social insights from the roux, imbues Andrea’s travails with meaning ... It’s hard to love a book whose protagonist is as unlovable as Andrea. And yet, All Grown Up is a smart, addictive, hilarious and relevant novel. This paradox is a credit to Attenberg’s wit and scathing social observations, which offer up an affectionate, insightful portrait of her tribe.
Kaui Hart Hemmings
MixedThe San Francisco ChronicleThe novel’s characters and settings are rich and resonant. Unfortunately, its structure and plot are thin ... Greatness we do not find here, but this smart, funny send-up of modern motherhood, San Francisco-style, succeeds nonetheless.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleParadoxically, the greatest success of this poetic, searing memoir lies in its universality ... Spiegelman’s memoir is beautiful, not perfect. In a book populated by so many unreliable narrators, the reader longs for the author to rise above the fray, pointing the reader toward the truth — if such a thing exists — when her progenitors’ memories clash. That said, I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This is a compelling first effort.
RaveThe Chicago Tribune...[an] addictively compelling memoir-in-essays ... One expects a lot from a memoirist whose remarkable life is her art and whose remarkable art is her life, and Bukowski in a Sundress does not disappoint ... Addonizio's acerbic commentary on the business of writing is equally poignant and hilarious.
Alain De Botton
MixedThe Chicago TribuneThe book is a two-fer. First and foremost, The Course of Love is a novel about the course of the marriage between Rabih, a Lebanese-German architect, and his Scottish surveyor wife, Kirsten — the classic, inexorable marital progression through infatuation, disillusionment and ultimate reconciliation. Also, the book is a kind of self-help course on love, administered via a series of philosophical meditations interspersed throughout the narrative ... Two hundred pages in, de Botton's italicized reflections become a bit tiresome, and their moralistic message contrasts unpleasantly with the unconditional love that the author (and, inevitably the reader) feels for his imperfect, well-intentioned protagonists. But there's no writer alive like de Botton, and his latest ambitious undertaking is as enlightening and humanizing as his previous works.
RaveThe Chicago Tribune[Blackout is] as lyrically written as a literary novel, as tightly wound as a thriller, as well-researched as a work of investigative journalism, and as impossible to put down as, well, a cold beer on a hot day.
RaveThe Chicago TribuneAmbitious doesn't begin to describe the scope of the project O'Connor undertook. And successful doesn't begin to describe the wildly imaginative techniques he used to realize his authorial goal ... What makes these literary gymnastics work is, in a word, talent ... O'Connor takes a risky stance, characterizing a multi-decade sexual relationship between a slave owner and a slave as anything other than rape. What justifies the risk is his insistence on using a full palette and tiny brushes to draw these characters, rejecting broad brush strokes in black and white.
RaveThe Chicago TribuneIf there's any justice in the literary world, The Narrow Door, Lisicky's fifth book and first work of nonfiction, will be the blockbuster that his talent deserves. It's as close to perfect as any book I've read ... a memoir that's a wide-open window to the complexities of love, loss, and being human.
RaveThe Chicago TribuneFates and Furies is not the first piece of writing to question how much two people, even a 'perfect couple,' can ever really know each other. Groff is not the first writer to build a novel on an unreliable, even unlikable narrator or two. Nor is she the first to present a seemingly happy marriage from two conflicting perspectives. (Superficial, inaccurate, but understandable comparisons will be made to Gone Girl.) What's different and remarkable about Groff's third novel can be summarized in two little words: the writing. Groff is a prose virtuoso, and in Fates and Furies she offers up her writerly gifts in all their glory.