PositiveThe Arts Fuse... this biography will be treasured by Hemingway fans and scholars ... It is not a pretty story, though, especially for those of us who admire Hemingway’s work and who found the Burns series quite moving in its empathy for Ernest as a man. Because Mary is often as unlikable as Ernest could be ... Christian presents a vivid picture, plunging the reader into their daily life ... although Christian ends his biography with a litany of her virtues, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth about this sometimes brave and compelling, yet often resentful and puzzling, woman. And a gut feeling that perhaps this last marriage, which seemed to break Ernest’s spirit, might have not been the very good thing that Mary’s biographer sincerely believes it was.
RaveThe Arts FuseThe subtitle of Here, Right Matters is An American Story, and therein lies the memoir’s remarkable value ... The second lynchpin in this amazingly interesting life, especially when you consider that he is only forty-six as I write, is when Alexander met Rachel Cartmill ... their story is charming and moving and has its share of tragedy. But to see them rise to the challenge of facing evil...is riveting ... although I don’t usually have much interest in the military, the facts and twists and turns about the American armed forces that I learned from Here, Right Matters are fascinating ... So here is a book that instructs as it entertains, that your teenaged grandchildren can enjoy whatever their politics. Its narrative voice is appealing as the round-faced man who so bravely stood before the world when he was called to testify, and who tenderly reassured his worried father (who voted for Trump, by the way) that, in the end, this is a democracy that will stand by those who tell the truth.
RaveThe Arts Fuse... wonderful ... here is a voice worth listening to — an erudite writer with an exuberant style telling us a story of a Sicilian family over the last 150 years that will expand your vision, amuse you, instruct you about all sorts of things you never dreamed would interest you but do, and, perhaps most important, make you remember your own childhood and the people you love even more vividly than you do ... Renato takes us into a world that is as magical as it is convincing ... What a pleasure it is to revel in this work, which expresses enduring values in such an original way.
RaveThe Arts Fuse... superb ... a remarkable book ... It doesn’t really matter if every word is true. What matters is that this Ayad is determined to make us understand what it means to be a first generation Muslim-American in a country that many of us have idealized, to our peril. What Ayad reveals, with stunning detail and a passion and an urgency rarely seen in American fiction, is that his is a story marked by a loneliness similar to that found in Melville, Dreiser, and T.S. Eliot, among others, and that puts him squarely in their company ... Although his work could fall into the category called auto-fiction which I usually find unbelievably boring, this is prose that sweeps you along, whether you want to go or not, and embraces the reader in a story that’s so compelling you feel you are a participant. His subject is, like his idol Whitman, America itself. And how our ideas of who we are shape who we are, often in ways both subtle and destructive. Yet how those very ideas and ideals keep us going in a world that is increasingly complicated and often bleak ... exactly what its title suggests: a brilliant look at America right now, and far more than a history lesson or a picaresque journey. Thus, it minces no words about how our capitalist system has corrupted all of us — perhaps beyond any hope of redemption — and how money often ruins lives; how sex and power have too much leverage; how we are now, finally, beginning to face the music. It takes great courage to write a novel of such breadth, a novel which, in its meticulous accounting of so many aspects of American life, gives us a picture of our country as moving and as devastating as Roth’s American Pastoral. Even its form signals something new and exciting. Although it may strike some readers as a baggy monster because of its ability to move the narrative into so many places, it is anything but. The precision and the beauty of the prose are exemplary, every word counts and every path explored gives this novel not only a clear trajectory, but also an intimacy that only first-class fiction possesses. This is a novel that takes real risks, risks that just add to its power to connect to its readers ... a gritty, penetrating look at our country from a badly needed perspective. A look at our flawed, money-grubbing country, whose inequities have gone ignored for too long. A book that delves deep because its narrator cannot sit by and watch the place he considers home go to the dogs. A book that refuses to fall for the clichés of smugness and celebration that cloud our vision. A book that can ease the loneliness we have all been living with and that can encourage us to the \'new beginnings\' we have been so unable to foresee for far too long.
A B Yehoshua, trans. by Stuart Schoffman
RaveThe Arts FuseHow Luria maneuvers his way through both old and new tasks reminded me at times of Nabokov’s Pnin (one of my favorite characters in all of literature); here one feels the same ineffable tenderness that is the mark of a truly wonderful writer. There are missed opportunities, moments of panic when Luria’s memory fails him, yet also moments of sweet comedy as he and Dina interact or when he gets a tattoo of the ignition code for his car when he realizes he is forgetting more than first names ... But this is more than a story about the dangers of the aging brain. Yehoshua has pulled out all the stops and it is the relationship of Israeli to Palestinian that lies at the heart of this book ... Exuberant is the right word, not only for the story’s pile up of characters and events, but also for its prose. It has such precision and joy that I would be remiss if I didn’t praise the translator, Stuart Schoffman who can render a sentence like this: \'Vaguely distressed, Luria opens the big double window to see if the night has swept away the sun and sprawled across the world.\' My suspicion is that the Hebrew is even more satisfying than the English translation, and that we are missing word games and puns, but so be it. What we have is more than good enough — a novel so intimate and vivid that past and present and future merge in ways that generate surprise and delight.
PositiveThe Arts FuseI would argue that some of these pieces are more like novellas, or mini-novels. Indeed, it may be that Eisenberg and Alice Munro have expanded the idea of what a short story is ... Eisenberg is an interesting writer, \'a great noticer,\' and extremely articulate with an exemplary vocabulary and style. These stories pull you in and imitate life in an uncanny way ... What is so remarkable about the narrative is how alive these people are ... a more straightforward piece of writing and reveals Eisenberg’s concerns about the apparently deteriorating world we live in. It is, in a way, her call to arms, that the repulsive people she is writing about cannot have the last word ... I also appreciated her ambition, her need to address all these ills of inequity, colonialism, the despoliation of the environment, and the motives of selfishness and neglect with which the rich often lead their privileged lives ... there were times when I was acutely uncomfortable, and I found myself wishing for more from this very talented writer.