RaveThe Sewanee Review... one of the most enthralling books I’ve read in years; it may be the most important, too ... I say none of this lightly. On the contrary, it strikes me as a critical necessity to celebrate a work of imagination that captures experiences and emotions so distinct from the other sorts of novels that clamor for our attention in this age of compulsive self-absorption ... precise and unflinching prose ... offers a piercing vision of what happens to the individual in a nation where corruption is the coin of the realm, where violent bigotry and calculated deception are essential political tools, where social media become the apparatuses of foment and surveillance, where social justice is seen as sedition, and where the acquisition of fame and power make the conscience expendable ... The wonder of Majumdar’s novel resides in the tremendous vitality of its three central characters ... [an] intricate and propulsive plot ... One of the great pleasures of reading A Burning is how swiftly Majumdar sets the story into motion ... t is astonishing to me—though it shouldn’t be—that the first great social novel of the Trump era has been authored by a young woman who grew up in India and emigrated to America to further her education. She has captured the dimensions of our moment with chilling precision: the deranged national lust for fame, the activation of tribal grievances, the political uses of sacrificial sadism, the gleeful nihilism that disguises our national despair ... Majumdar has captured the rhythms of life among Bengal’s destitute with a ruthless and tender precision. Her language is musical, textured, and unexpected without ever calling attention to itself ... Majumdar has the unerring eye of a novelist, one that snags on the most cogent details ... a searing light cast into the shadows of a world we wish to ignore but nonetheless inhabit.
RaveThe Boston GlobeThe most striking aspect of the new biography, Paul Simon: The Life, is the extent to which self-doubt has both plagued and propelled its subject ... These persistent insecurities are what set the new book apart from the standard rock and roll biography ... Hilburn goes to great lengths to document how Simon composed particular tunes ... Hilburn does best when he moves beyond the role of chronicler and helps readers plumb the depths of Simon’s creative process.
MixedThe Boston Globe\"...a disquieting and oddly arms-length portrait of a media mogul with almost no laudable qualities beyond his ambition. To the author’s credit, he paints a portrait of his subject’s unhappy childhood — an early divorce, self-involved parents — that helps explain Wenner’s desperation for acclaim. The problem is that, for the remainder of the book, Wenner comes off as an insecure fan boy with no true principles, journalistic or otherwise ... Alas, most of Sticky Fingers is dedicated to documenting what might be called The Groupie Legacy of Wenner. We get endless pages devoted to his flirtations and feuds with rock and roll illuminati (Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen et al). We hear about his coke binges, his workplace machinations, his deals and debts, his unhappy marriage, and his affairs. Which is to say: We hear a lot about what happened but not much about what it means.\
RaveThe Boston Globe...one of those novels with the rare power to mesmerize. It’s a dazzling meditation on monogamy, parenthood, mortality, shame, erotic liberation, and artistic struggle, a tale told by an adulterous middle-aged schlub, full of sound and fury, and signifying, well, pretty much everything ... The plot is rudimentary and almost beside the point: Rich and Amy flirt, surrender to lust, retreat, reconnect, and bid farewell. The novel’s genius resides in the manic, self-lacerating voice of the narrator, one that will be familiar to fans of Klam’s celebrated debut collection, Sam the Cat, which mined the masculine angst of modern courtship ... Klam is writing in the tradition of Updike, Bellow, and Roth, unspooling an unabashedly masculine account of midlife crisis. But his female characters are never reduced to caricature. He sees in them a distinct but nuanced struggle for selfhood ... Klam has brought to life an indelible character, a man painfully alive on the page, cowardly in actions but utterly fearless in confronting hard truths we spend most of our lives evading.
PositiveThe Boston Globe...ambitious, earnest, lyric, rollicking, loud, and long ... what emerges is not a joyride of Dionysian excess but a portrait of the young artist as a single-minded pragmatist ... This is not to suggest that Springsteen is without a comic sensibility. He’s particularly adept at puncturing the pretensions of his various rock personas ... If there’s a design flaw in Born to Run it has to do with the inherent arc of the celebrity memoir. It’s simply not as bracing to read in the final third of the book about Springsteen’s later years ... Where Springsteen soars — both as musician and writer — is in his ability to bear witness, not only to his own inner life but to the lives of those left behind in the post-industrial wastelands of this nation.
PanThe Boston GlobeThe good news is that Duchovny does, from time to time, nail the fraught masculine dynamics that lie at the heart of this indulgent farrago ... Bucky F*ucking Dent isn’t literature. It’s a business arrangement. That being said, it marks an obvious progression from the glib juvenilia of Duchovny’s debut novel, Holy Cow. Here, the hunky actor at least tries to confront the frailties of fathers and sons, how they seek to love each other, and too often fail, despite the 'chasm of need' that lives between them.