PositiveTIME\"For Dederer, the wrong turns are the point—and perhaps the only path to whatever might pass for enlightenment. She burrows deeply into the idea of genius itself, both its glory and its limitations, and she begins with the hard stuff ... Would it be giving too much away to tell how Dederer ultimately solves the problem of monstrous creators? Or, at least, solves it to the extent any of us mere humans can? Monsters is a dazzling book. It’s also, occasionally, a maddening one. Dederer refuses to draw easy conclusions, always a plus. But in weighing the relative crimes and merits of, say, a J.K. Rowling—whose views on trans identity have sparked calls for boycotts even as her defenders say the fury is overshadowing the nuance—she can also come off as frustratingly noncommittal. At a certain point in the book, she balances two extremely complicated figures on a delicately calibrated seesaw ... Dederer acknowledges that it’s easier to sympathize with the fragile, enormously gifted Plath than with the firebrand [Valerie] Solanas, even as she tries to elicit some compassion for the latter. You may come away, as I did, largely unpersuaded.\
RaveTIMEButler’s lively, well-researched and marvelously readable book isn’t just for actors, but also for anyone who loves watching them. Most in need of it is anyone who has ever announced authoritatively, at a cocktail party or anywhere else—and, sadly, my personal experience tells me these people are plentiful—that \'Method acting is when you actually become the character\' ... Butler weav[es] a story that keeps us asking, And then what happened? That’s no small feat in a book whose goal is to trace the history of an often controversial and sometimes rather opaque set of performance principles ... Butler pulls it off, by painting vivid portraits of the people who breathed life into those precepts.
MixedTIMEThis is really a novel of sisterhood, of women finding clever routes to claiming their power, given all the roadblocks men have historically thrown up before them. Groff’s prose is sometimes elegant and sometimes willfully serpentine, curving around in overly complicated loops...But Groff’s book achieves liftoff here and there, especially in the way she sketches the personalities of Marie’s fellow nuns.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewWatching an early silent [film] can feel like peering into another person’s dream. Smith captures that spirit, and more, in The Electric Hotel, a vital and highly entertaining work about the act of creation, and about what it means to pick up and move on after you’ve lost everything ... With The Electric Hotel, Smith...puts a human face on the details of early film history. In Claude, he gives us a character who’s alive to the ways in which celluloid can capture flashes of life and depths of feeling. But Claude is also susceptible to the tragedy of love ... Claude Ballard and Sabine Montrose’s Electric Hotel lives, sadly, only within the pages of this novel ... and yet so vivid we can imagine every frame, tiger and all.
RaveTIMEThe Paper Wasp is...hypnotic and sensual ... Acampora’s prose has a seductive, pearlescent allure, even when she’s addressing doomed friendships, friends who can never live up to our expectations, friends who betray ... [Acampora] come[s] right out and say[s] certain things that many of us wouldn’t dare speak aloud: Women aren’t automatically great just because we’re women. Sometimes, in fact, we’re dreadful.
PositiveTIMEAttuned to women’s everyday stresses ... Fed Up’s chief value lies in its reassurances that emotional labor, too often considered \'women’s work,\' is also damn hard work.
Hiro Arikawa, Trans. by Philip Gabriel
PositiveTIME...winsome and bittersweet ... Arikawa clearly knows cats as well as any human can ... That understanding of the wariness of feline affection–and its ability to grow, over time, into a thrumming force as deep as a throaty purr–drives this fleet, funny and tender book ... But her book stands out within the world of cat literature even so, and it’s a world worth exploring.
PositiveTIMETraister’s conscientiously researched Good and Mad takes a...macro view of women’s rage ... Traister is especially astute in emphasizing the ways in which black women laid the cornerstones for women’s activism in this country ... Feminism forces certain complexities into the stream of our daily lives, and Traister has a great gift for articulating them.
PositiveTIMEChemaly’s Rage Becomes Her is...a work of great spirit and verve even when she’s dealing with difficult subjects ... If you’re a woman, you may start reading Rage Becomes Her...thinking you’re only medium-angry about stuff. By the end, your catalog of outrage will be bursting at the seams. (There’s still a tax on tampons? Really?) There are days when we feel punished just for being women. Boldness, distilled from our anger and laced with a sense of humor, is the only solution. Forward march.
RaveTIMEMichiko Kakutani is the squirrel who remembers the nuts. Her slender, fiery new book, The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump...could have been written only by someone who reads more, and retains more, than most mere mortals ... In the book’s most dazzling section, Kakutani dissects how postmodernism and deconstruction, formerly the dual darlings of lefty academics everywhere, have been co-opted by dark forces on the right ... In The Death of Truth, she shows true, passionate anger.
Glen David Gold
RaveThe New York TimesThe artfulness of 'Carter Beats the Devil' rests both in Gold's ability to unfurl a story before our eyes and in his crackerjack skill at recapturing a lost era. Gold takes us from Charles Carter's first magic show (performed for a household servant during the great San Francisco blizzard of 1897, when 9-year-old Charles and his younger brother James find themselves snowbound in their home with no parental supervision) to a thrilling conclusion, set in 1923, in which Carter delivers the greatest performance of his life … Gold's smartest feat may be the way, page by page, he fleshes out the character of Carter. Remote, mysterious and preternaturally lonely, Carter is the toughest kind of character for a writer to get a handle on...By the end of the book, Carter, a man who lives his life in the shadow of illusion, is nothing less than vivid and perfectly rounded to us.