PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewA eulogy, a cautionary tale, a love letter and a sob of anger ... It revolves around the suicide of a man Wallace loved and held in awe, yet it scrupulously avoids the crevasse of guilt that bedevils — and stalls — many similar stories ... In this memoir, his writing can be repetitive. His descriptions of growing up in Birmingham, Ala., and struggling to become a writer are oddly generic. But by the end of this well-told story we understand the trap Nealy set for himself: He could no longer hide his pain, yet he could not live with it being seen.
Carolina De Robertis
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review[De Robertis\'] admiration for her protagonist is so absolute that at times she reduces him to a set of irreproachable — and bloodless — ideals ... Still, this is a moving, deeply felt novel, especially in the president’s excruciating (and sometimes humorous) encounters with his strangely healing frog. De Robertis daringly invites us to imagine a man’s Promethean struggle to wrest control of his broken psyche under the most dire circumstances possible.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis resistance is a fine narrative stroke. It allows him to recreate their encounter as an inconvenience rather than a privilege. A callow poet, hungry for guidance, is cluelessly alone with one of the most formidable writers of the 20th century; his task is to open his eyes and discover the blind man’s brilliance. Parini wonderfully describes Borges as he experiences him, free of reverence or awe ... A delightful aspect of this portrait is Borges’s complete lack of snobbishness. He is curious about everyone they meet, offering himself openly ... This reminiscence by Parini, who is now a prolific novelist, biographer and poet, brings Borges more sharply to life than any account I’ve read or heard ... In this sense, the memoir is an important contribution to the biography of a major writer. The bond that Borges and Parini forge during their improbable journey is moving, with its unexpected moments of confession and shared fragility. Some scenes, remembered 50 years after the fact, may read like set pieces, some conversations may seem too neatly composed, but the spirit of Borges rings true. Fans may notice that his conversation is peppered with quotes from his essays and wonder if Parini has placed lifted passages in his subject’s mouth. But this was how Borges talked: There was little separation between what he had read, lived and written himself ... For readers who already admire Borges, this memoir will be a delicious treat. For those who have yet to read him, Parini provides the perfect entry point to a writer who altered the way many think of literature.
Mario Vargas Llosa, Trans. by Edith Grossman
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe tone, perfectly conveyed in Edith Grossman’s virtuoso translation, is amused and theatrical — realism that never asks the reader to forget it has been neatly contrived ... To tell his story, Vargas Llosa employs the familiar telenovela technique of alternating chapters among different characters, allowing the destinies of the lowborn and the high, the powerful and the powerless, to intersect in ways they themselves never see ... The book’s \'happy\' ending reflects its author’s belief, perhaps, in the power of individual morality and will.