PositiveThe Washington Post... bracing ... a heart-rending and edifying portrait of the pain of mental illness ... Although barely more than 130 pages long, the book illuminates far-flung branches of Antrim’s family tree ... Antrim’s life, like his work, is a high-wire search for perfection
MixedThe Washington PostMy sympathy goes out to Richard Greene, who, after editing the English novelist’s collected correspondence, now chronicles a life as crazed as a hall of cracked mirrors ... In large measure, this approach enriches the perspective [on Greene] ... Sometimes, however, this focus on \'political and cultural contexts\' comes at the expense of attention to Greene’s private behavior. The Unquiet Englishman contains many examples of his charity to worthy causes, generosity to relatives and friends ... But perhaps to avoid any charges of prurience, Richard Greene lets a stream of prostitutes and lovers flow through the book as one-dimensional as shapes in a shooting gallery. Greene’s promiscuity is mentioned but seldom delved into.
Kamel Daoud, trans. by John Cullen
RaveThe Washington PostOn its surface, Daoud’s book is an angry screed attacking colonial European attitudes that reduced Arabs to nameless objects. On a deeper level, it suggests that the real stranger in The Stranger is not Meursault, but the dead man on the beach ... The implied equivalence between Meursault’s crime and Harun’s, and between the moral compromises of the narrator and the possible deceit of the listener, is more than a clever literary device. It helps explain the fatwa against Kamel Daoud.
RaveThe Washington Post\"... it\'s both astonishing and a pleasure to report that Andre Agassi, who was castigated for an ad campaign saying \'Image is everything,\' has produced an honest, substantive, insightful autobiography ... the bulk of this extraordinary book vividly recounts a lost childhood, a Dickensian adolescence and a chaotic struggle in adulthood to establish an identity that doesn\'t depend on alcohol, drugs or the machinations of PR.\
Andrea di Robilant
RaveThe Washington PostAutumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse focuses on the final turbulent decade of a life, but Andrea di Robilant captures the full panoply of quirks and conflicts that often made Papa and those closest to him miserable. Lovers, ex-wives, friends, publishers, even complete strangers were forced to dance to the tune he piped ... Still, di Robilant...never fails to empathize with the aging author’s predicament ... A diligent researcher of primary and secondary texts, di Robilant demonstrated in his first book, A Venetian Affair, a gift for weaving fascinating narratives from letters, diaries, archives (including those of the di Robilant family) and previously published work. In this instance he has a treasure trove of material. Chatty as magpies, Mary, Adriana, Gianfranco and even the majordomo René all published memoirs, offering a stereoscopic depiction of events. But the crystallizing point of view, the one that raises this story far above idle gossip, belonged to Hemingway himself.
MixedThe Washington PostOne can only marvel at the fall of the five-time Grand Slam champion, the glamorous spokeswoman for luxury products and the richest female athlete in the world. To convey this kind of calamity would require a Greek tragedy, not an as-told-to autobiography. But Unstoppable does offer clues to why Sharapova finds herself with few friends on the pro tour ... reads like a Horatio Alger story on steroids ... The memoir ends where it began, with Sharapova’s bravado about never quitting 'until they take down the nets. Until they burn my rackets.' I’d recommend that the author of Unstoppable pause, reflect a bit deeper, and cut herself and everyone else more slack.
David Foster Wallace
PositiveThe Washington PostRuminative, digressive, lyrical, funny, sad, sometimes borderline lunatic, these posthumously collected journalistic pieces have all the hallmarks of Wallace’s novels. Verbal pyrotechnics and philosophical speculation alternate with pop-culture allusions and Homeric lists. His fixation on brand names and sponsors’ logos at tournament sites would daunt a deconstructionist. And his penchant for footnotes may daunt readers accustomed to the rat-a-tat of most sports reporting.