RaveThe Washington PostThe opening scene is perfection. We meet the eponymous heroine of Diane Johnson’s latest novel, Lorna Mott Comes Home, as she rides in the back of a taxi, en route to the train station in Lyon. Lorna, an American woman \'of a certain age,\' asks the driver to stop so she can observe the aftermath of a mudslide that has unearthed coffins, bursting them open and exposing corpses, bones and \'a huge, sticky hillock of treacherous clay\' in the village of Pont-les-Puits, where she has lived with her French husband for 20 years ... a review of the latest entry to this 87-year-old author’s body of work arguably ought to have less to do with deconstructing the plot or gauging the likability of the characters than with heralding the arrival of another of her smart comedies of manners. Fans of Diane Johnson will not be disappointed. Those new to her work might best approach these pages through the lens of a social anthropologist who studies the lives of characters prone to problem solving by crisscrossing the Atlantic.
Kurt Vonnegut, ed. by Edith Vonnegut
RaveThe Washington PostThese letters are rich fodder, both as firsthand accounts of World War II, and a glimpse into the mind of a writer finding his voice. Above all, though, these are love letters, many of them so rapturous that were it possible to distill these pages into liquid form, it might be prescribed as an elixir for malaise ... Would the manic creativity on display in these letters have thrummed its way into print had his love life taken a different turn? We are speculators here, peering into someone else’s marriage. Even as literary biography, voyeurism is voyeurism all the same ... Love, Kurt is story of two people deeply in love, living through what Kurt speculates are \'the most horrible times in history.\' It may be an exercise in delusion, but it’s still heartening to bask in these letters, to take this feral love for what it was at a freeze-frame moment in time.