RaveThe Washington PostClare Carlisle, in her sparkling, penetrative new biography...explains how Kierkegaard ran against the philosophical grain of his time ... Carlisle abandons standard chronology in favor of a three-part study ... With this unconventional structure — a fittingly oblique approach for a famously dialectical man — Carlisle is better able to crack open the philosopher’s life: What we get is a panorama of sorts ... Carlisle does not sacrifice intellectual rigor for the sake of this larger picture. Her work is demanding in its comprehensiveness ... Carlisle’s book is an essential guide to those beginning or reembarking on their Kierkegaard journey.
MixedThe Los Angeles Review of Books... mortifying and fury-eliciting anecdotes ... While Bair’s writing in Parisian Lives can be stilted, hokey, and reflective of a rather rigid emotional intelligence, she tells a story that is nonetheless enthralling and leaves the reader marveling at her perseverance ... yet, despite the sympathy Bair elicits, one still finds room to be enraged at her occasional naïveté and curious silences ... Bair’s relationship with Beauvoir was far more relaxing — which, unfortunately, makes for less engaging reading ... does this book succeed as a memoir? In a way. Throughout, Bair tries to twin the processes of subject-discovery with self-discovery ... one can’t shake the feeling that, in certain of its revelations, the book wants to be a tell-all ... Most effectively, though, Parisian Lives is a testament to Bair’s strength. Putting aside the book’s structural unevenness as well as the author’s unconscious, compulsive hokiness and reductive binaries, one cannot deny that Bair is perseverant: even when silent in the face of blatant misogyny, she does not give up. Her uncanny courage makes it hard to hold her failings against her, and thus hard to hold them against the book in which she explores her harrowing, transformative journey.
RaveThe Times Literary Supplement... [a] magnificent, sprawling new novel ... In juxtaposing these two narrators, Obreht moves beyond the suggestion implicit in The Tiger’s Wife: that myths help us to transcend cultural divides ... in Inland the use of the mythic is altogether more disorientating. Those who hold sincere faith in the occult (communing, for example, with the spirits of the deceased) rub, without authorial judgement, alongside casual dabblers (those who experiment with water divination, just in case) and staunch realists. The result—to borrow a phrase of Obreht’s—is to trap the reader \'between worlds,\' making it \'hard to distinguish waking from dreaming\' ... The different sections, moreover, have a way of bleeding into one another, so that we begin to forget the boundaries of a day, even of a life ... What ultimately unites Nora and Lurie is their disposition: their shared irreverence, perspicuity and perseverance. Like the rest of Obreht’s cast, and regardless of where they sit in time, they are pleasingly immediate—and so too is the novel’s historical backdrop, with its always circumstantial references to Native American tribes, the Stock Association, the impact of railroads and issues of nationhood and looming globalism. Obreht leads with an invisible hand. We hardly realize that she is piecing the story together until it emerges, at the end, as a kind of gestalt. If there are narrative gaps—and there are—the reader has worked to fill them. And what might have appeared as a sideshow—an epic battle between rival small-town newspapers; or the consequences of Lurie’s arbitrary theft—finds its place, in an ecstatic unification of more than just the novel’s central characters: of time itself.