PositiveAir MailOne can’t help but feel a degree of sympathy for Clements and the challenge he has taken on here ... For all Clements’s access to Morris, however, one comes away from this book feeling no closer to her. She’s like a compelling figure seen across the square of some exotic city that you long to know more about ... At times you wonder if Clements’s tendency to veer toward minutiae...is his grasping to bring some—any—level of detail to Morris’s life. But there are random details, and then there are essential details that burn in one’s mind, and the book most springs to life when Clements leans on Morris’s own writing ... Clements’s best writing covers Morris’s early years, where he unpacks the early forces of wanderlust that formed the aspiring writer.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... nothing short of Zelig-esque from the get-go ... we meet a who’s who of the generation that rewired literature and art in the second half of the 20th century, from Kerouac to Carolee Schneemann ... When he returns to New York in 1974, he reconnects with William Burroughs. These passages about their personal, sexual and creative collaboration are among the memoir’s most revealing, which is saying a lot for a memoir that’s already so revealing it’s borderline graphic ... Great Demon Kings captures the energy of those heady and seminal downtown years, when new art forms were born.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewTaylor’s memoir is an admirable quest to answer a question that, for many children of parents who struggle against darkness, is almost unanswerable. \'How do you save a drowning man who doesn’t want a life preserver?\' ... There are stretches where Taylor leans too hard into the minutiae of academic life, and life in general—not just the size of a Brooklyn apartment, but also the total number of units in the building. He’s a profound thinker, however, comfortable struggling with the Big Questions. And at times it’s not clear where he’s going or wants to go ... But Taylor is an intelligent writer, sure of his voice ... a story told with heart and deep self-reflection, steeped in philosophy and questions about faith.
Glen David Gold
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewAs he searches through the attic of his memory, there’s no artifact too minor, no detail too small for Gold to hold up and ask us to ponder with him. His show-and-tell style at times reads like a decades-long diary—whole and unexpurgated ... For writers, having an exhaustive memory is a blessing, but for their readers it can be a curse, leaving them feeling as if they’re in the presence of a hoarder determined to clean out his home. Each time Gold picks up an object, a whole world unfolds. It’s not detail or chronology Gold leaves us longing for; it’s sentimental resonance—and he knows it ... When silent films came to Japan, theaters hired men—benshi—to stand at the side of the screen and translate what was happening, emotionally ... I sometimes wished this book had come with a benshi of its own ... His refusal to fully engage with his mother in life transfers to a certain emotional distance on the page. The son may need to keep her at arm’s length, but the author should not; the reader yearns for him to fully embrace her and the character she is. The choices of the son are not always the best choices of the writer.