PositiveThe New Yorker... excellent ... though the events she describes are often upsetting, Moore’s touch is cooler than a writer like Maynard’s, her prose spare, her eye quietly ironic. One gets a sense that what is revealed has been chosen appraisingly, not out of coyness but, rather, out of something resembling an architect’s appreciation of a structure’s good bones. Moore’s writing has the slightly mysterious sense of detachment that she adopted when building her persona, many years ago, though paradoxically this is what makes her revelations, when they come, more piercing ... Occasionally, while reading the memoir, I found myself exasperated by Moore’s passivity.
Heike Geissler, Trans. by Katy Derbyshire
RaveThe New YorkerGeissler’s aim is to communicate that beneath this abstraction, however, laborers are individuals. In that sense, Seasonal Associate belongs to the long literary tradition of social-problem novels, which includes Charles Dickens’s Hard Times Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath—all of which attempt to reveal, in their careful, humanizing treatment of character, fully realized protagonists caught within stultifying and impersonal industrial mechanisms. In a contemporary case like Geissler’s, this kind of project is no less urgent.
RaveBookforum…[a] lovingly detailed, deeply researched biography … In Zinoman’s description, Letterman was more an ironist than a radical, and his insurrection was carried out more often on the level of tone than that of substance. Still, his relentless urge to defy the expectations of both guests and audience, especially in his first decade in late night, proved an unusual and amazingly creative force within the soft-centered world he inhabited … The book also makes clear, though, why what could easily have turned into an arid exercise in knee-jerk assholism didn’t. Part of what made the show work was the friction that arose between Letterman and his guests, which often made for incredible TV. Audiences were refreshed by Letterman’s sometimes overt hostility toward celebrities, which came naturally to him, since he had a ‘sensitive ear for phoniness and canned talking points.’
PositiveThe New YorkerMarnell—whose arena is the women’s ghetto of beauty magazines—adopts a more self-consciously ditzy pose, a more self-directed will to harm ... Marnell is a great storyteller. Funny, with the clever hustler’s knack for an energetically spun tall tale, she has an upbeat tone that hardly falters, even when she recounts the most harrowing episodes of her life. Still, reading her book, I periodically wanted to shake her. 'Stop it!' I’d say. 'You don’t need to be more focussed; you don’t need to be skinnier; you don’t even need to be the best at being a hilarious, up-for-whatever fuck-up.' But, of course, I also understood.
RaveThe New RepublicThe joy of Babitz’s writing is in her ability to suggest that an experience is very nearly out of language while still articulating its force within it.