RaveThe New York Journal of Books... takes the reader on a wild ride. [Kushner] is the kind of writer who comes straight at you in understated sentences that always add up to much more than their individual parts of speech. Her essays, like her fiction, are invariably thought provoking and moving, by turns surprising and heartbreaking ... impressionistic and tantalizing...compelling the reader to connect eclectic images and anecdotes that add up to a meditation on entropy, death, art, and memory ... A few of the essays in Kushner’s collection are esoteric, drifting from the impressionistic into the arcane, but even the murky moments usually have the quick and surprising light of a shooting star to them.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksBailey performs the task of the biographer so gracefully that it’s hard to know the dancer from the dance ... Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth is that rare sort of book, meticulous without sacrificing dramatic energy, endlessly entertaining without ever surrendering critical integrity, candid without forfeiting compassion. There’s a good reason why the subtitle of the Bailey’s book is \'The Biography\' rather than a biography ... Bailey’s much-anticipated biography puts Roth’s career into personal and historical perspective ... A lesser biographer would have made of Roth’s life a blizzard of salacious details—there are plenty of them to recount (most of the pseudonyms in the biography are reserved for Roth’s many lovers)—but, instead, with a persuasive critical insight and what can only be called a novelistic sense of empathy, Bailey gives us the picture of a memorable life, a penetrating look into the troubled genius that was Philip Roth ... With this book, Bailey deserves the definite article for himself. He is the biographer of Philip Roth.
RaveNew York Review of BooksIn many ways, French’s The Searcher echoes John Ford’s narrative of a moral man faced with an immoral dilemma ... French is in a class of her own, though, even with her Dublin Murder Squad series. She writes literary novels, brimming with psychological nuance and cultural undertone. Her books typically offer more subtle details about the idiosyncrasies of Irish life than they do about solving murders, and that’s what makes her mystery novels sui generis ... it is straightforward in its affectionate descriptions of the Irish countryside and unblinking in its depiction of the Irish character ... it’s always a compelling and rewarding journey.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books[Doyle] is following in the footsteps of his countryman James Joyce by refusing to repeat himself and by pushing his genius beyond ordinary boundaries ... Autofiction for its own sake seems coy and depthless. Neither of those two words apply to Doyle. He is simply suis generis ... funny and scary and profoundly compelling—more so if it doesn’t hide behind the gossamer veil of autofiction ... Such a tale might seem sordid, but because Doyle writes with an unnerving candor and humor, it ends up feeling like collaboration among Kafka, Camus, and Mark Twain ... no matter how dark Doyle’s thoughts become or how perilous his behavior, he is always brutally honest, funny, and self-deprecating ... As readers we watch [Doyle] and listen to him, wide-eyed, holding our breath, with alternate looks of horror and amusement on our faces.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksLynch manages to transform a news story into a universal tale of friendship and endurance and love ... Beyond the Sea is elemental. It is a story sliced to the bone. It compels the reader to look unblinkingly at matters of life and death, at the heart of what it means to be fully human. Lynch puts the reader on that small boat in the blank Pacific, implying that in a profound sense we are all there and must face the same questions that Bolivar and Hector are forced to face.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksEnright is a powerful storyteller with the ability to portray with a quiet grace the nuances of Irish culture ... Actress is at times compelling, but it’s not Enright’s best work—nor is it always all that compelling ... Along the way, as the reader is shuttled, sometimes exhaustingly, through the shadows of Katherine’s life by Enright, there are wonderful moments that come close to making the story come alive ... There’s poetry in the book. And honesty. One can hear the voice of the narrator center stage but too many characters—husbands and children and lovers—stay lifelessly behind the curtain.
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Eds. Cathy W. Barks and Jackson R. Bryer
MixedBookpageIt would be more apt, perhaps, to call the volume Mostly Dear Scott, for the majority of letters are from Zelda. Yet there are enough responses from her husband to give credibility to the title and, more importantly, to give a sense of the often sad symbiosis of their relationship ... The letters between Scott and Zelda trace the arc of their love its great passion, its failures and its enduring strengths.