PositivePortland MercuryJonathan Scott’s exuberant, conversational book The Vinyl Frontier recounts the entirety of this fascinating project, which was completed from start to finish in little more than six weeks ... Scott’s book doesn’t get too bogged down in the science, instead focusing on how the Golden Records’ images and sounds were selected ... that\'s the pleasurable takeaway from Scott’s book, which provokes serious contemplation about how humans and aliens—provided they make contact—could ever manage to communicate.
PositiveThe Portland MercuryI’ll read every book Patrick deWitt writes ... The common element is deWitt’s wonderfully aslant window into these varied worlds, and how he casts black humor and surrealist streaks of magic onto familiar literary terrains ... French Exit’s Manhattan milieu evokes midcentury writers like Salinger and Cheever ... French Exit’s bone-dry prose isn’t as funny as deWitt’s earlier work, either, and the story’s thematic undercurrents only appear, faintly, at the very end ... It’s suspenseful and creepy and weirdly emotional, and one hopes deWitt’s next book might have more stuff along those lines ... deWitt’s writing is always intriguingly off-center, even when he’s riffing on established tropes.
Glen David Gold
RaveThe Portland Mercury\"This riveting, sneakily emotional book—if it is to be accepted at page-value, and I believe that it is—is a brutally honest account of Gold’s upbringing at the hands of a troubled, unreliable mother and a distant, disinterested father ... Gold’s story is a uniquely awful one, but the experience of reading I Will Be Complete is anything but. The book unfolds like a novel—Gold’s previous two books, Sunnyside and the exceptional Carter Beats the Devil, are historical fiction based on real-life figures—and his first-person narrative is wry, funny, and refreshingly objective. We eventually learn why Gold chooses to describe his life so dispassionately, and his frankness is a much better alternative to the sort of goopy, overwrought confessional a book like this could have easily become.\
Glen David Gold
PositiveThe StrangerThe first page of Glen David Gold’s new memoir consists of a simple and surprising caveat: ‘My mother assures me none of this happened.’ The reader spends the rest of I Will Be Complete discovering just how illuminating this opening statement is … This...sneakily emotional book—if it is to be accepted at page-value, and I believe that it is—is a brutally honest account of Gold’s upbringing at the hands of a troubled, unreliable mother and a distant, disinterested father. Their marriage disintegrated when Glen was at an early age and his father’s fortunes evaporated.
RaveThe Portland Mercury\"It’s affectionate and wryly self-interrogating, as Hyden explores why he connected with this music so much and why it still works for him ... If all of this sounds like yet another case of \'aging white guy waxes nostalgic while complaining that his interests, once mainstream, have been displaced,\' Hyden’s way ahead of you. Unlike virtually every other kind of writing of this nature that I’ve read, his book never points fingers, cries foul, or blames the youth. Hyden acknowledges that he was born and raised at a particular time, in a particular place, with a particular shade of skin, and if anything, Twilight of the Gods reveals how those variables—which none of us have any control over—shape our cultural interests, which in turn define our sense of selves.\
PositiveThe Portland Mercury...a critical, firsthand look at the attempted uprising ... Pogue provides plenty of necessary context, but there’s precious little about the standoff itself. What he does describe precisely illuminates how uninteresting most of the occupation was ... Chosen Country isn’t the definitive text on the Malheur fiasco—Pogue assumes readers closely followed the story on national news, and the book requires a fair amount of background knowledge to keep one’s bearings amid its time-jumping narrative ... He writes in breathless, lengthy, circuitous sentences, but more often than not does so lucidly and arrestingly ... Chosen Country is a smart and emotional read.
Daniel H. Pink
PositiveThe Portland MercuryIt’s a collection of predictable if not quite obvious truths, clearly presented and researched, about how time affects our lives in virtually every facet ... it lives in a somewhat nebulous shelf space: not quite self-help, not quite pop psychology, not quite behavioral science, but a conversational, TED Talk-y amalgam of all three ... what I found most useful about Pink’s book is his advice in how we structure our days. And getting started on the right foot is perhaps the best single thing you can do to get to the finish line. If these sound like intentionally vague self-help koans, Pink has a lot of information to back them up, and When presents it compactly and efficiently, so that you can get back to making the most of your own time.
MixedThe Portland MercuryPerhaps the greatest surprise is how warmly he depicts Morrissey, and the book should preempt any further questions presented to Marr about whether the Smiths will ever reunite ... The latter half of Marr’s book is a whirlwind through these gun-for-hire years, and Marr’s recollections are primarily about the music, rather than gossipy starfucking tell-alls. In fact, Set the Boy Free is among the least salacious rock bios out there ... The writing is conversational, easygoing, and clear. Marr may not be an exacting storyteller on the page, as dates remain vague (he does have a knack for describing places, though), and the characters in his life are not drawn with any particular vividness. But it’s Marr’s name and photo that appear on the front cover, and Set the Boy Free gives us a thorough portrait of him.
Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa
PanThe Portland MercuryThis premise holds promise...But instead of this project bridging the audiences of Murakami and Ozawa, it’s doubtful the result will satisfy either faction ... For fans of Murakami’s fiction, the book demands a fairly expert grasp on classical music, or at least a level of interest I doubt many of his American readers possess ... That level of detail, on the other hand, should sound like perfection to classical music buffs, and Ozawa fans in particular. But the conversations are dominated by Murakami’s long-winded and sometimes pedantic observations, with a slightly checked-out Ozawa offering quick verbal agreement ... As a reader who wanted to become familiarized with Murakami’s work and as a music fan who wanted to learn more about how to listen to classical music, in the end I was left feeling decidedly empty by Absolutely on Music.
Peter Ames Carlin
RaveThe Portland MercurySome bones of the rock-bio formula remain, but even from the get-go, Simon’s path—and Carlin’s recounting of it—bears intriguing abnormalities. The Portland author pays particularly careful attention to the New York songwriter’s formative years...It’s an often-overlooked period that’s crucial to understanding the rest of Simon’s career ... Carlin also diagrams his subject’s personality in a way that fully informs and illuminates the music ... Carlin provides a rewardingly complete picture in his briskly readable narrative.
MixedThe Portland MercurySome of deWitt's characters are marvelously depicted, such as Mr. Olderglough, the castle's aging, skeletal majordomo, and Memel, the elder of the pair of thieves. Other characters are not so well drawn, like the Baron and Baroness, who barely register beyond a few examples of atrocious behavior. Lucy, for his part, quickly metamorphoses from an unlikeable liar into a vaguely heroic figure; his yearning for the beautiful Klara is palpable and effectively romantic. While his transformation happens perhaps a bit too quickly, Undermajordomo Minor offers a satisfying tweak on the Bildungsroman formula...For most readers, the question will be if Undermajordomo Minor is as good as deWitt's outstanding The Sisters Brothers. I would say that it isn't, but I don't hesitate for a second to recommend it anyway.