RaveThe Saturday Paper... an incautiously intimate stocktake of the places and people that have mired McCrea’s life in pain and grief ... In its ungarnished prose and loud inner voice, Cells stitches raw memories with new meanings to craft a brilliant composite of a son’s unexamined relationship with his mother.
MixedThe ObserverAn energized guidebook that argues for more spiritual thinking in our daily lives. Wilson is a funny and self-deprecating thinker who traces the commonalities of the world’s major religions, maintaining that embracing the general teachings of their inspirational scriptures can lead to a rich soulful life. It’s admittedly a sometimes clumsy exercise ... Wilson’s own struggles with depression and despair speak to universal human experiences that this spiritual roadmap aims to help guide. His earnestness is often endearing, and his joking asides...keep things moving. There’s some naiveté, some distracting tangents, and some clunky writing. But where Wilson can be faulted on his prose, he redeems himself in his honesty and verve.
RaveEsquireIt will remind readers of his incredible imagination ... Rushdie’s epic tale plays out on a magical scale ... The novel’s magic realism—from the protagonist’s nose being shaped like a penis to a blind art lover—evokes the disorder many post-colonial countries experienced in the 20th century. Rushdie uses this style to pull readers forcefully into his fictional worlds ... Reading the novel is a truly surreal experience ... With his retelling of the lost Vijayanagara Kingdom, we are challenged to expand our understanding of the subcontinent’s many fabled myths and metaphors—for these too are history, even if fictional. Rushdie tells us that there’s a joyous pleasure taking this route because it creates a wholly immersive experience ... Rushdie’s return to magic, myth, and India’s ancient stories is dazzling.
RaveThe ObserverA wild ride traversing terrain around the star most of us have never accessed ... The book blends prose and poetry, pairing simple clipped verse with impressive philosophical references—an often-overlooked fact about Anderson is that she is a voracious reader—in an intimate look at the underside of a blond bombshell Anderson explains as a construct, and one she increasingly controls for her own activist ends. The mix of prose and poetry creates an impressionist experience ... Her memoir asks us to look beyond the centerfold spread, sex tape, and platinum hair to her politically active, emotionally fragile, and intellectually hungry world ... Anderson is at her most anchored and palpable probing the inner sanctums of her life, and Love, Pamela is a defiant and loud testament to that.
PositiveObserver... deftly captures how celebrity gossip culture has been completely democratized by armchair commentators, unverified and viral rumors, and eager influencers hinting at conspiracies across platforms like Instagram and TikTok. While the novel serves to give a pulpy retelling of @deuxmoi’s supposed origins, there’s also a smart thematic inflection on anonymity that makes it stick out more than any usual \'novelization\' does ... Writing anonymously avails a writer the ability to be incautious and unfiltered. It also gives readers an immediacy and frankness, which the anonymity seemingly affords—these books have hidden their authors because their truths are sometimes too powerful. Even though the key celebrities featured in Anon Pls are fictional, there’s enough mentions of real-life stars, like Sydney Sweeney and the rebooted Gossip Girl cast, to remind us of the real insider trading the real @deuxmoi has about stars to share on the internet.
RaveThe ObserverHale spends time carefully unfurling how Morgan’s rare, undiagnosed childhood schizophrenia created her fraught and hazardous inner world ... Hale, however, with clear-eyed prose and deep legal research, reminds readers how the judicial system sometimes remains myopic in its search for justice for all parties ... Hale...is a welcome narrator to this strange saga, especially in covering Morgan’s difficult and largely untreated circumstances ... While Hale was unable to speak to Anissa or Bella directly for Slenderman, her conversations with an imprisoned Morgan are sobering reading, as we see the depths of Morgan’s former mental illness and its painful hold on her ... Slenderman is a skilled and detailed retelling of a story that still mystifies many years later.
PositiveObserverThere’s a perverse pleasure in reading another person’s diary...It might be the violation against this writing act itself—diaries are not meant to be read by anyone but the author...Whenever readers do get access to a person’s private diaries, like those of Sylvia Plath or Virginia Woolf, there’s naturally an intoxicating pleasure in pouring over entries that give unguarded, seemingly authentic access to these mythologized people and their inner thoughts...Now a new book, Unmask Alice, explores how so many of us were tricked by a false promise of true tragedy and trauma when reading teen \'diary\' Go Ask Alice (1971)...Unmask Alice provides a propulsive reckoning on Go Ask Alice and its author’s lifelong obsession with self-mythologizing her own involvement with it...While there’s more widespread knowledge today about Go Ask Alice’s fiction, what makes Emerson’s efforts so compelling is how he neatly peels back the many complex deceptions by Sparks made across her lifetime...These includes fabricating \'real\' teen depression and suicide across many best-selling books, exploiting various cultural panics about drugs and witchcraft for monetary gain, and even elevating her own stature to that of \'leading psychologist\' in youth mental health...Unmask Alice is a noble project that singularly synthesizes the many strange, contradictory, and mostly scattered fictions that surround both Go Ask Alice and Beatrice Sparks herself...Emerson’s writing is smart throughout, with various tricks—including clipped, staccato chapters that come to mirror slim diary entries—keeping readers engaged across an otherwise complex web of deceit, exploitation, and even sad folly that form this wider backstory.
RaveThe Rumpus\"No House excels when it provides the verbatim stories of the queer youth— unpacking the tragic and painful actualities of their lives and describing how they have become so hardened to the grimness of life ... Though he sometimes falters in his storytelling, Berg’s quest to give voice to queer youth of color is a noble one. No House seeks to make visible, the invisible and because of this is an important and revelatory read.\
Joyce Carol Oates
RaveLos Angeles Review of Books...a welcome treat from the iconic American writer ... Soul at the White Heat proves itself to be a kind of roadmap to the capacious, mercurial Oates. The collection compiles previously published cultural criticism, reviews, and personal essays, forming a nuanced portrait of Oates as both author and critic ... This personal piece of journalism not only details the author’s search for her writing subject, but also chronicles a disarming, difficult shock she encounters in the process, one that affects her readers as much as it did her ... Here Oates hungers for close encounters with the stuff of life and refuses to let age or other impediments stand in the way ... Oates’s unguarded and compelling book gives insight into her vulnerabilities and illuminates her vision as a writer. It is as close to a look into her private artistic world as we have had.
MixedThe AV ClubThe result is mixed, as Diamond combines incautious candor and self-pity in his arduous decade-long adventure ... Searching For John Hughes’ strength lies in Diamond’s intensely personal references to Hughes’ body of work and his light cultural criticism of the films. Moreover, Diamond’s reflections on both suburbia—the way it both castigates and liberates—and Hughes are thoughtful and considered ... Diamond’s tragicomic memoir attempts to offer readers some important life lessons, but falls short with its self-pity and solipsism.
MixedThe NationOshinsky moves ahead with his history of Bellevue in short, crisp chapters, exploring its role in the Civil War before arriving at the Bellevue Psychiatric Building ... Bellevue seeks to present an alternative narrative, one that emphasizes the important role the hospital has played in New York’s public-health history. But avoiding any direct discussion of the popular representations of Bellevue—or, indeed, of the luminaries who stayed there—only serves to remind readers of these grand cultural myths. And it doesn’t do enough to redirect or contextualize what everyone already knows about the hospital ... Oshinsky’s book goes a long way toward correcting that record, but his refusal to address Bellevue’s cultural history is an important opportunity missed.