RaveThe Star TribuneThis memoir is a remarkable book — and an important one. Vivid and direct prose ... 1000 Years is a breathtaking self-examination of a brave artist, written so that his own young son may one day understand Ai Weiwei\'s joys and sorrows.
PositiveThe Star Tribune... a vivid tale of courage and discovery, of engaging with a world that contains so many interpersonal traps, so many sources of shame, guilt, and self-deception ... Such plot as there is comes to us via conversations. The jokey give-and-take of the craic—and there is plenty of it—lightens the book\'s serious subject matter ... Nealon keeps us laughing to soften the rawness. And as all is filtered through Debbie\'s sharp consciousness, we come to appreciate the protagonist\'s fierce curiosity about how to guide oneself to live in the world.
RaveThe Star Tribune... a remarkable compilation ... In his distinctively lively, digressive style, Dyer offers the reader a provocative, sometimes zany guidebook to more than 40 modern (1900-present) photographers and their work. Reading Dyer, in a word, is fun, and this collection is an intellectual funhouse ... Dyer\'s exploratory prose descriptions offer the reader a short course in parsing inscrutable photos. His prose is witty, full of puns, odd comparisons and unexpected connections ... Graywolf Press has given us a very attractive volume that should delight fans of Dyer\'s rich imagination and everyone else who has ever wondered what\'s going on in a photograph.
PositiveThe Star TribuneJiles has produced a classic Western adventure tale, with plenty of terse male dialogue and lush natural description ... Simon and Doris (the governess) both romanticize their circumstances (as 19th-century Westerners often did) but Jiles’ detailed depictions of poverty and hazards provide a counterbalance ... Jiles illustrates the cosmic dimension of music, its ability to create unity among disparate people \'who listened to the phrases of melody that somehow fitted together as constellations fit together far away in the deeps of space, shining over the Gulf.\'
Ilan Stavans and Josh Lambert
PositiveThe Star Tribune...as Ilan Stavans and Josh Lambert’s rich and multifaceted anthology shows in detail, becoming American meant leaving behind much of what defined European Jewry, Yiddish included ... How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish is sort of a love letter to Yiddish, the 1,000-year-old vernacular spoken by Eastern European Jews ... This is an encompassing collection and an engrossing one. The section on Jewish food — including Chinese, the second Jewish cuisine — is terrific.
MixedThe Star TribuneIt’s worth mentioning that the community of writers who people the coffee shops and bookstores of this novel seem a pretty narcissistic bunch. But the conversations that Casey has with them are terrific — King’s gift is to suspend the reader, to make the wait for resolution fascinating ... Readers of King’s 2014 novel, Euphoria, who are hoping for an even more remarkable novel in Writers & Lovers may be disappointed. There is nothing comparable to the brilliance of Nell Stone, a Margaret Meade stand-in in the earlier work, and the excitements of Writers & Lovers are on a smaller scale, though equally well written.
RaveThe Star TribuneEvery bookstore in Ireland is well stocked with accounts of growing up on a remote Irish farm, but Tom Phelan\'s memoir of his boyhood is exceptional ... I sped through the book (yeah, just one more chapter before bed). Phelan\'s prose has an unpretentious beauty as he describes the farm, its routine and the people he remembers ... With rich detail and sensitivity, We Were Rich translates for us a rural world that has disappeared.
Andrea Camilleri, Trans. by Stephen Sartarelli
PositiveThe Star TribuneThe plots are delightful and complex, as tasty as the antipasti and seafood dishes that the Inspector wolfs down every 40 pages ... The Overnight Kidnapper ... is full of atmosphere and life, and Stephen Sartarelli’s translation captures it all beautifully.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune\"Though setting, identity and motivations are shrouded in Blue Ridge mist, Hagy’s language is intense and crisp. What she allows us to see is striking ... Hagy does a splendid job of intertwining the strange threads in her novel, and readers with a taste for magical doings will not be disappointed. Scribe is ultimately an odd but very engaging mixture of the creepy and the redemptive, with a resolution that dispels the murkiness in a clever and startling way.\
RaveStar Tribune\"Rachman’s ensemble of art-world characters here is luminescent; their dialogue is intelligent and so entertaining ... while I had fears that I could see how everything would play out, Rachman manages a truly dazzling ending, one that balances one’s captivation with paint with one’s presence in the world.\
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThe setting for this reflective and provocative narrative is Mary's exile, as she tries to assist the two men who have come to write down her memories so they might conform to the divine narrative they have in mind. Mary's testimony, however, springs from the consciousness of a mother far removed from her son's prophetic mission. She is unwilling to tailor her reminiscences to the needs of the chroniclers who pester her for anecdotes … Mary offers us the immediate details, the minute and the horrifying. She recalls the informers, who circulate through the rowdy crowd, searching for her, and a man who calmly feeds rabbits to a caged hawk. She is acutely aware of her tight shoes … This beautifully written ‘testament’ speaks to the testimonial nature of other theological accounts.
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThe innocuous title of Suzy Hansen’s Notes on a Foreign Country offers little sense of the eloquent and impassioned prose that lies within the book’s covers ... Hansen has much to say on the civilian cost of regime change. If this section of the book suffers, it is because she is no longer being flooded with epiphanies while living the Turkish experience; here she is mostly reporting ... America has much to learn about the rest of the world, and Hansen leaves us with the fervent hope that Americans can reconnect to the rest of humanity. America’s future, she writes, 'will, hopefully, not be about breaking from the past, but about breaking from the habit of its disavowal.'
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune...engaging and very well researched ... Goldstein’s insightful and graceful prose reveals four authors during troubled moments of their careers, and he is fortunate in having a trove of writings from which to draw. Forster, Woolf and Eliot knew each other very well, read one another’s writings with an eye to what might be artistically useful, and reviewed one another’s work in journals. This year-in-the-life chronicle gives us a remarkable look at the gestation of literature.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune...a brilliant, understated examination of memory and how it works, how it compartmentalizes and fixes impressions to tidily store away. In Tony's words, his own memory is a ‘mechanism which reiterates apparently truthful data with little variation’ … The second, larger part of the novel rouses Tony from his retirement torpor and challenges his glib constructions of the past. An inexplicable legacy from Veronica's mother (it's been 40 years since he last saw Veronica) launches him on a quest that unsettles the calm routine of his world. Aging, this clever, provocative novel argues, is no ‘fixative’; rather, time acts as a ‘solvent,’ melting our certainties, forcing us to re-examine our acts and our beliefs if we've courage enough.
Haruki Murakami, Trans. by Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThe stories mostly take place in Tokyo's noodle shops and cheap bars. Yet despite the forlorn situations and the dreary settings, the best of these stories hold the excitement of a quest: These odd episodes of awakening desire show men startled into an awareness of how they have shorted themselves on life ... Some of the stories are slight...The best stories, though, pry open the impassive surfaces of human behavior to reveal 'the bloody weight of desire and the rusty anchor of remorse.'
Viet Thanh Nguyen
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneWith tenderness and intimacy, with softly shaded ironies, Viet Thanh Nguyen personalizes a group of Vietnamese-Americans living on the West Coast ... Unsurprisingly, The Refugees is full of complicated family dynamics, cultural rifts and surprising resolutions ... The nine unpredictable and moving stories that make up The Refugees are a remarkable achievement, portraits of people living in a phantom zone called America. I found that I was unable to read more than one story a day — they so filled my mind.
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThe Tyrannosaur Chronicles will engage the casual dinosaur enthusiast and the reader desiring in-depth explanations and bibliographic detail. Hone’s careful speculation, his clear prose and his occasional whimsy make this an illuminating and enjoyable guide to the lifestyle of everyone’s favorite theropod.
PanMinneapolis Star TribuneYet for all the evocative prose, Barker does extremely little to involve her readers in the emotional lives of her characters in what is essentially a character-driven novel. The artists only occasionally emerge from their crippling memories, and Barker boxes herself in in such a way that her ending seems arbitrary.
MixedMinneapolis Star TribuneCrispin's technique of locating herself in the lives of adopted expats is a wonderful organizational device, but credibility is worth exploring. Her reading of Irish activist/actress Maud Gonne, for instance, is simplified to the point of distortion... Is Gonne — and are the other figures — conveniently tailored to suit the essayist's needs? How much this matters is up to the reader.
PositiveStar Tribune“Did You Ever Have a Family has a distinct Faulknerian atmosphere as the truth of what has taken place emerges slowly and collaboratively.”