PanThe Millions\"Jamison is an incisive stylist and has amassed an enormous amount of information and insight on what her subtitle calls \'intoxication and its aftermath.\' But her own recovery story, the spine on which she hangs reams of archival research and reportage, is—well, boring is a little harsh, but it’s not enough to carry a 500-page book ... Too often, though, stories of lifelong addicts like Holiday, who grew up black and poor and died literally handcuffed to a hospital bed, sit uneasily alongside that of a Harvard-educated novelist who sobered up her 20s without so much as a DWI ... awareness of privilege doesn’t blunt its protective force, and in the end the borrowed pathos of the stories of Holiday and Berryman and other writers like Raymond Carver and David Foster Wallace never solves the core problem, which is that Jamison’s own story lacks the dramatic heft to bear the weight of analysis and research she piles upon it.\
PositiveThe MillionsGreen persuasively argues that Bannon, who first met Trump in 2011, offered the future president two services without which Trump never could have won: first, ‘a fully formed, internally coherent worldview…about trade and foreign threats,’ and, second, a turn-key ready ‘infrastructure of conservative organizations’ that had spent decades attacking his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Indeed, at times reading Green’s book, one comes away with the gnawing sense that Trump did not so much win the 2016 election as happen to be the guy who benefitted when the darker forces on America’s right wing finally succeeded in destroying Hillary after failing to drive her husband from office in the 1990s.
MixedThe MillionsStatus envy fuels nearly every sentence of Bright, Precious Days ... There is plenty more to Bright, Precious Days, some of it interesting, great masses of it flabby and cuttable ... Whatever else you could say about the young Jay McInerney, he was a damn good novelist. But it seems long past time to admit that, like his fictional avatar Russell Calloway, that early Jay McInerney is long gone, his place taken by an aging society wit, whose work, while never less than polished and professional, has lost its precious brightness.
PanThe MillionsI found Isenberg’s book by turns fascinating and exasperating ... The early — and best — chapters of White Trash detail how 17th-century British elites saw the American colonies as a vast dumping ground for England’s lower classes in order 'to drayne away the filth' from the homeland ... But even as Isenberg debunks one politically convenient fiction, she perpetuates an equally pernicious one, that of the special victimization of the white poor. Time and again, Isenberg soft-pedals the long and ugly history of white-on-black violence and minimizes the myriad ways — legal, economic, social, and cultural — the poorest of poor whites have been privileged over black and brown Americans ... Isenberg appears to have decided to write a history of poor white America and then persuaded herself that poor black America was only tangential to her story.
PanThe MillionsCline is a gifted stylist, and her subject is a sensational one, which is no doubt why her editors saw in The Girls the potential for a breakout literary thriller like Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics or Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. But I fear New York publishing has jumped the gun here. The weight of expectation that comes with the headline-grabbing book advance combined with Cline’s inexperience as novelist cancels out the many flashes of fine writing in The Girls, leaving the reader wishing this talented young writer had been allowed to develop slowly, under the radar, instead of being showered with cash and pre-publicity before her craft had caught up to her prodigious gifts.