RaveVulture... a glowing object that somehow replicates and beautifies the experience of being on the internet (one of her ongoing topics) while also functioning as a carefully plotted story ... What follows is profound … it’s enjoyable … it’s profoundly enjoyable ... Lockwood reminds me a lot of Nabokov — less in style than in attitude, one of extraordinary receptivity to the gifts, sorrows, and bloopers of existence. What Lockwood lacks in Nabokov’s fastidiousness she makes up for in butt jokes.
PositiveVultureThis is a page-turner about a tough woman and her con-artist lout of a partner, and I will eat my laptop if it doesn’t get optioned for TV or film the minute it hits bookshelves ... a book that is easy to read without being remotely lightweight. It is published by Two Dollar Radio, a small press out of Columbus, Ohio, which I think of as the Barry Bonds of small presses: They hit an astonishing number of home runs.
RaveVultureThis is a page-turner about a tough woman and her con-artist lout of a partner, and I will eat my laptop if it doesn’t get optioned for TV or film the minute it hits bookshelves. It is also woven through with ideas about feminism, parenting, narcissism, and self-sufficiency — a book that is easy to read without being remotely lightweight. It is published by Two Dollar Radio, a small press out of Columbus, Ohio, which I think of as the Barry Bonds of small presses: They hit an astonishing number of home runs.
PositiveVultureThis is a novel that feels like hitchhiking: The route is unpredictable but fated and exciting, with an air of treachery. If you relate to the idea of desperate people doing desperate things for reasons only partly clear to themselves, you will find it thrilling.
PositiveVultureI read it, in a perverse spirit, entirely outside, on a sunny patch of grass, without a single person within seeing or hearing distance ... In order to enjoy one of these books, you need to trust the author’s ability to responsibly synthesize specialized knowledge that lies outside of her, and your, expertise. You need to know in your soul that the author is not the type of person to cite Wikipedia as a source or become enveloped in a plagiarism scandal one instant after you finish reading her book. I am glad to report that Anthes passes the trustworthy test. Her sources are respectable and diligently noted. My margins were covered with scribbled WTFs not because she was drawing deranged conclusions from misinterpreted studies but because the book contains piles of cool facts that are actually, from what I can tell, facts ... The Great Inddors.
RaveVultureEach of the ten installments provoked a response reminiscent of eating a Warhead: giggling, grimacing, contracting different parts of my body. These are stories that focus on small acts of interpersonal sorcery, unkindness, and petty revenge in mostly sun-soaked (or, in some cases, fog-bound) California settings. Cline has a Philip Roth–like ability to write compelling passages about specific lines of work ... I believe this is a technically perfect book.
Kate Reed Petty
PositiveVulture... delectable ... The actual facts of the event remain mysterious until Alice pieces them together, detective-style, as an adult; the reader pieces things together alongside her until, with a flourish, all is revealed, and it is time to go back and start the book over to puzzle out how the author did it. (With great skill and intelligence, it turns out.) Your enjoyment of any book in this realm will hinge on your willingness to be cleverly duped; personally, I love a sense of earned bamboozlement.
PositiveVulture... a brief but scenic route through the author’s brain ... Some of the six pieces collected here are less essay than episode. Smith will pick up an idea, check it out, put it down, pick up another ... Smith writes both like Zadie Smith and an extraterrestrial imitating Zadie Smith. She’s an omniscient narrator of her own experiences, most of which are intensely outward-facing; she’s an inveterate people-watcher ... in every piece—a moment when Smith revises herself or catches herself in a mistake; when the pinball of her thinking hits a bumper and rockets off in a new direction ... consistency is for machines, and this collection—cooked up quickly, with a few lumps left in the batter—makes a joyful case for its opposite.
Patrik Svensson, Trans. by Agnes Broomé
PositiveVultureI was drawn to his book the way a child is drawn to an unusual foul smell, and it was as much a boon to my mental life as a blow to my social one. For weeks after reading I found myself cornering people at parties to obliterate them with a machine-gun spray of eel facts ... There are parts of the book where Svensson seems maybe a little too enamored of his subject ... Still, it is a charming and itch-scratching contribution to the eel canon — less an analysis of eels than a meditation on their glories. If you don’t think of yourself as someone who might enjoy meditating on eel glory, well, I didn’t either, and here I am transcribing my encounter for publication.
RaveVultureReading [Romance in Marseille], I got the sweaty, panicked sensation of wanting to \'do something\' with the information I had (\'This book is incredible\') before anyone else did. This is how I imagine it feels to be a jewel thief who finds a key to the museum, except what I’m empowered to \'do\' with this hot tip instead of stealing a fortune is composing a review ... custom-designed, it would seem, for the modern obliterated attention span! But as with any novel, the themes are only bits of thread unless woven into a dazzling tapestry of a character, which is what we have in Lafala ... there is the best description I’ve ever read of human legs, as well as the best description of waking up and feeling like shit, the best description of erotic satisfaction, and — to dip into extravagant specificity for a moment — the best description of a Corsican pimp fretting that his girlfriend is mentally distancing herself from him ... a novel out of time.
Leila Slimani Trans. by Sam Taylor
MixedThe New York Times Book Review\"Although the misery is universal, this story is uniquely, and often amusingly, French ... The book would be a lot less fun if Adèle were vaping and knocking back Munchkins like a red-blooded American adulteress ... If the central idea of the book is a fascinating one, the prose is not always impeccable. Dialogue can be flat. Clichés are abundant ... Still, I liked this earlier novel much more than [Slimani\'s other novel] The Perfect Nanny, which doesn’t have an everyday iconoclast like Adèle...\
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"The Canadian writer and actor Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall is a fine person to write a book about hangovers, not only because he’s a tenacious researcher but also because he’s willing to get thoroughly torn up on a consistent basis in colorful circumstances ... Reading his chronicle, Hungover: The Morning After and One Man’s Quest for the Cure, has an effect not unlike recovering from food poisoning or slipping into a warm house on a frigid night. You turn the pages thinking, \'Thank God I don’t feel like that right now.\' Or maybe, \'Thank God I’m not this guy\' ... Bishop-Stall’s archival rooting-around is more interesting than his memoir through-line. Although he’s a lovable narrator, he’s also a pretty normal one, and his activities — planning a bachelor party, eating cheese, cat-sitting for his parents — don’t always rise to the level of book material. But that’s O.K. You expect a book about alcohol to ramble a little, and his commitment to the subject more than compensates.\
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"To judge by its plot summary, Early Work is about the age-old drama of ethics getting steamrollered by desire. But it’s more than a tale of adultery ... Like a long line of fictional characters before him, Peter dignifies his misdeeds by casting them as potential literary scenarios. A petty deception can be construed as a personal plot twist; a catastrophic drunken evening might make for good material one day. He’s Jane Austen’s Catherine Morland, if she’d vaped a lot and dropped out of a Ph.D. program...And like Catherine Morland’s creator, Martin too balances Peter’s (considerable) annoying qualities with sensitivity, yearning and comic blunders. He doesn’t condemn his character, but he doesn’t justify the guy, either ... It’s not a book that will inspire hot takes or incendiary tweets; the author is unfashionably male and the concerns unfashionably universal. It’s an accomplished and delightful book, but there’s no hashtag for that.\
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewOne woman wrote to her [Ann Landers] seeking advice about her 2-year-old daughter, whom she described as \'the homeliest child I had ever seen.\' ... \'How sad that you attach so much importance to good looks,\' Landers clapped back. \'Get some counseling, Mother. You’ve got a geranium in your cranium.\' This is the sort of wicked tidbit served up by Weisberg, who has wisely opted to present chapter-length essays on key figures of the genre rather than attempt a comprehensive history (although I don’t doubt that her research was exhaustive). Her final chapter focuses on Mike King ... He tells Weisberg that his goal is to \'try to leave people with the impression that they’re not stupid, even if they are.\'
MixedThe Boston GlobeZone One is a zombie novel set over the course of three days in a dystopian Manhattan ... At the center of the mess is Mark Spitz, an oddly named individual of 'unrivaled mediocrity'... Spitz’s state of fuzzy passivity might be attributable to the after-effects of such a memory if Whitehead didn’t assure us, to the contrary, that his character has always been an unexceptional, passionless type of person –– a guy 'constitutionally unaccustomed to enthusiasm' ... It’s a strangely passive character around which to organize a story, and it is with Spitz that the book’s trouble originates ... His sentences are uncommonly perfect, his similes startling and delightful... Its strengths (the sentences) and weaknesses (the underseasoned Spitz) are equally conspicuous ... But good writing needs good storytelling, and good genre fiction needs a sharp plot. Without these things, it just feels like people-watching.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewCatherine Lacey’s second novel has the effortless sparkle and speed of something written by an author with a dozen novels behind her instead of just one. It is funny and eerie and idea-dense — a flavor combination that turns out to be addictive ... Kurt, as you may have guessed, is a certain kind of male idiot: too frivolous to be despicable, too self-aware to be blameless. It takes a skilled writer to summon such an individual in detail without dehumanizing him. It also takes a skilled writer to make Mary, saddled with the curse of being young and sick, as compelling as she is ... This is a breathtaking leap to witness, and a promising trajectory to follow. On the basis of The Answers, I’d read anything Catherine Lacey tried her hand at.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review...the diary offers some bawdy giggles here and there ... Mentally, Jones is a teenager. Or maybe a tween. This has always been the case; her diaries come packed with capital letters for emphasis and italics for the same — gah! — reason ... Any other specimen of humanity making the same blunders would be too depressing to contemplate or to froth up into a light comic novel or to adapt into a movie with sassy music and penis jokes in the trailer. The newest of the Bridget Jones chronicles is, like all of Helen Fielding’s novels, well paced and well crafted, as symmetrical and solidly constructed as an Oreo, after all.