RaveThe American ConservativeWith his third novel, Original Prin, Randy Boyagoda confirms his position as one of the best satirical writers today. More immediately funny than either Governor of the Northern Province or Beggar’s Feast, but just as deeply cutting, Original Prin ... has an eye for the absurdities of modern university life ... One question the novel asks is to what degree is Prin responsible for the situation in which he finds himself at the close and to what degree is he merely a hapless victim of a world that has gone off the rails? ... Readers may be disappointed with the cliff-hanger ending, but take heart. The good news is that this is but the first installment of a planned trilogy. May the second Prin come quickly.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalIt is the linked portraits of Forster and Woolf, two friends who each, to their own ends, found a way forward in their work through the example of Proust, that form the most persuasive and valuable part of Mr. Goldstein’s book. The chapters on Eliot and Lawrence are somewhat less successful ... D.H. Lawrence is the odd man out in this quartet, and Mr. Goldstein’s claim that things changed radically for him in 1922 doesn’t convince ... What the book does show convincingly—and somewhat unexpectedly given Mr. Goldstein’s focus on the 'creative struggles' of these talented but fragile writers—is how important the help of friends and family was in supporting them.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalWhat makes Ms. Halford’s experience unique is her continued daily reading of Chambers’s devotional even as she moves away from most (though not all) of her upbringing and evangelicalism ... Ms. Halford does a fair job of retelling the essential details of Chambers’s life, focusing on aspects that most appeal to her ... Ms. Halford admits that Chambers would probably not approve of her cosmopolitan life, and as the book progresses, the contrast between Chambers’s preoccupation with holiness and Ms. Halford’s focus on her relationships with men and making it in New York becomes stark. The book thus skirts what seems to be its central question: What does Chambers’s outward-looking, self-sacrificial life have to say to people today—right, left, Christian, agnostic—in an increasingly self-absorbed culture?
MixedThe Wall Street JournalWhile Mr. Mariani’s Whole Harmonium bills itself as 'The Life of Wallace Stevens,' it too is a literary life, focusing primarily on the 'places' of Steven’s poetry ... Alternating between close readings of Stevens’s poems and paraphrase of Stevens’s correspondence, which he casts—sometimes awkwardly—in the voice of the poet, Mr. Mariani provides only minimal details about Stevens’s home and office life.