PositiveThe AtlanticDreyer is an expert grammarian and influential arbiter of good writing, whether in the novels he oversees as the copy chief at Random House, or on Twitter, where he points out the proper use of the em dash, commonly misspelled names (Olivia Colman), and that while it’s kosher to spell omelette as omelet, dialog is beyond the pale, \'Because ick.\' This blend of pedantry and whimsy makes his new book, Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, an instructive and entertaining manual—one that lays down the law of the jungle while being imaginative enough to allow personal idiosyncrasy to prosper.
MixedSlate... the bleak political vision of The Golden House reflects this ascendance. But the political thread does not intersect with the lives of the Goldens and feels tacked on, a flashy backdrop that has little to do with the plot. Moreover, the Trump-as-Joker skewering has a pantomime feel, failing to provide any insight into the reasons for Trump’s triumph and his very real appeal to large swaths of the country ... Thematically, Rushdie covers very little new ground in The Golden House. His old ideas and tropes—hybridism, immigration, reinvention, mythology, nostalgia for Bombay, rationalism—are faithfully paraded, as are his authorial tics: the slew of allusions, the genius attributes and stilted locution of his characters, the authorial narrator, the comedic naming of minor characters. But his move to realism is a welcome one in that it propels a lucid and cohesive plot—making the narrative of The Golden House a vast improvement on diffuse predecessors ... In the end, it is René’s voluble pedantry that undercuts the novel’s emotional power. At moments of joy, grief, love, laughter, intimacy, or pain, his instinct is to reach reflexively for a grand cultural allusion. This tactic comes off as a feint to avoid exploring the messy complexities of the situation at hand.
RaveNPR...riveting page-turner chronicling this sweeping Tolstoyan saga ... A former Time Paris bureau chief, Sancton is perfectly placed to document this extraordinary story and the haute Parisian power milieu in which it is embedded. In gripping but unsensational prose, he brings the debacle alive in its many dimensions, recreating not merely the lurid courtroom drama, but capturing 'the ineffable sadness at its heart ... Judiciously, Sancton doesn't take sides, restricting himself to perceptive observations about the Freudian motivations driving the dramatis personae of this family battle.
PositiveNPRIn sharp and vivid prose, Harpham tunnels through the harrowing months ahead filled with hospitals, needles, and ICUs. While the book could have benefitted from some pruning, what keeps the reader reading is the writing. Apart from the long, twee title, Harpham's language is crisp, tersely evocative, and most bracingly for a book whose currency is pain, funny ... A heartfelt exploration of mortality and life, this memoir also explores the complex pulls and pushes of human relationships, and the deep debt we owe to family, friends, and modern medicine. At heart, it is a sobering mediation on the lasting impermanence of its titular emotion, happiness.