RaveLos Angeles TimesNot quite a novel nor a memoir. The book’s publisher rightly calls it an \'unapologetically unclassifiable work.\' It’s at once a novel, a memoir, a poem, a monologue, a psalm, a rant, a scientific treatise, a political address, a last will and testament, a mostly punctuation-free stream of consciousness — a shout into the maw of oblivion, a definitive capstone to a long and storied literary life ... reads like a surreal semi-autobiographical blackbook record of a semi-mad period, except here it’s a period in which a nonagenarian looks back on his life as his centenary looms over the horizon. There’s little else to compare the book to, aside from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, where language becomes confused with life, which becomes confused with dreams in a pool of \'sublime babble,\' or Conrad Aiken’s Ushant, another memoir-cum-unapologetically-unclassifiable-work that spirals the psyche of its elderly author and mines his history in an attempt to reach somewhere, something, somehow ... a torrent of textual splendor, where groan-worthy puns sit side by side with deep philosophical ruminations ... if Little Boy is just a dream, then it’s one you can easily get lost in, and by the time you wake up, you won’t quite know what you did or where you went, but you’ll have felt as though you were able to touch another consciousness, if only for a brief moment, wandering one last time through the Coney Islands of an iconic poet’s mind.
Karl Ove Knausgaard
PositiveLos Angeles Times\"Karl Ove Knausgaard’s treatise on the art of Edvard Munch, So Much Longing in So Little Space, fails — as art criticism is prone to do — to adequately \'read\' or \'translate\' Munch’s paintings for us. But it should not be expected to be a translator ... And yet, though the book fails in the ways it must, it succeeds where others have failed, in its ability to imbue its failure with its own blend of artifice and truth, cliche and possibility, openness and closedness, creating something that may prove to be classic ... the book feels of a piece with the autofiction for which the Norwegian novelist is best known ... What is so compelling about the book, though, is that this longed-for unifying element and these supposed truisms become themselves suspect as the book approaches its terminus.\
RaveLos Angeles Times\"Lost Children Archive is laced with the melancholy of last things — not only through the stories told of the last Apaches, but also the choices of literary touchstones ... [Luiselli\'s] sentences are often as scintillating as those of her forebears ... The book reverberates with so much that has been in the headlines for the last months and years, that it’s impossible to read it without those stories acting as shadows ... Luiselli’s novel is the kind of book we need right now: one not afraid to dig into the politics of the present, but always with an eye toward posterity ... Lost Children Archive hits the right pitch and finds the right surface, whispering back to us our own questions and concerns, reverberating with the headlines of the present and the great art of the past. It doesn’t offer answers or illumination necessarily, but it does, like the struck match, make us aware of the dark, unknown space that surrounds it, of the enormous ignorance that envelops everything we think we know.\
PositiveLos Angeles Times\"... what Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters 1542 to 2018 shows us is that L.A. is a place that can’t be rationalized, explained or excused ... Kipen’s new compendium collects fragmentary views of Los Angeles, from nearly 500 years of letters and diaries, turning the City of Angels into a city of angles, glimpses, shards of perception, like a million little slivers of a broken mirror, all reflecting different images of our disparate city back to us ... A number of the fragments in Dear Los Angeles are master classes in micro-storytelling ... Though many of the entries offer riveting views of and perspectives on Los Angeles, the juxtapositions sometimes feel less meaningful, determined mostly by the impediments of the book’s idiosyncratic formal conceit ... Even if one snapshot doesn’t seem particularly enlightening, each gains iridescence by rubbing shoulders with the rest in the calendrical procession of partial portraits.\
Bragi Ólafsson, Trans. by Lytton Smith
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesThe shadows cast by past disappointments are long. Ancient defeats and buried regrets may sometimes diminish over time, but do they ever truly go away? Narrator...is a book that mines these long shadows of failure, anguish and resentment for jet-black comedic effect ... In this deft translation...Ólafsson’s voice shines through. The prose is relatively sleek and straight-forward, even as it erratically hops between first and third person, bubbling over from time to time with a dark and dangerous idiosyncratic beauty. As the story draws to a close, the resolution feels neither tidy nor messy, for it is nearly non-existent, which admittedly may be part of the point. Though unable to achieve the sublimity of his masters—the exquisite sexual obsessiveness of the surrealists, the intricate narrative play of the writers of the nouveau roman, the flawless disjointed nightmarishness of Kafka, or the perfect gallows poetry of Beckett—Ólafsson does manage to take the reader on a compelling journey into the tragicomic world that erupts from man’s inability to adequately process shame and the inevitable narcissism that flows from that ineptitude.
David Lynch and Kristine McKenna
PositiveLos Angeles TimesWhat makes Room to Dream different from your average celebrity tell-all — aside from the idiosyncratic figure at its center — is the book’s form. It is composed as a diptych: one half biography, one half memoir ... The book doesn’t give us one focused view of Lynch, but a double vision, as though two similar but not quite exact portraits of the man have been projected onto one another ... the blending of biography and memoir into a kind of biographical duet turns the whole project on its head, makes it different, stranger, more alive ... Sometimes these tales move the plot of his life forward, and sometimes they feel random, tangential, maybe even unnecessary ... there is value, joy, and beauty in staying with Lynch and his cohorts for these 500-plus pages, no matter where they take you or how long they seem to stare into space making a decision.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesThe Solitary Twin, released this month by New Directions, acts as coda to Mathews\' idiosyncratic career — a short work that succeeds as both a career-end capstone and a final digression ... While this mystery surrounding the twins electrifies the book, the majority of this clever, protean novel is comprised of the stories told at dinner parties and meet-ups among new and old friends ... One cold eternal winter does not reign on a single page of Mathews\' final novel because the stories continue, the digressions go on, and even though Mathews the man has passed away, Mathews the writer, the storyteller, continues — a now solitary twin.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of Books…[an] underrated masterpiece … The world Kavan builds is less a realistic 3-D model of a universe than what might be called ‘a field of strangeness,’ walled off not merely by the ice of the title, but by the concealment (and revelation, always the dance between the two) of the author. It is a work of ‘world-blocking’ rather than conventional ‘world-building’ … If Ice gathers to itself the properties of both a labyrinth and a mirror, the mirror is a clouded mirror — a glass in which we see, darkly, not ourselves, but shapes that may resemble us, outlines of a world that may be our world. Perhaps the best image for Ice is the funhouse mirror maze, where we are simultaneously lost and found, distorted and illuminated, blocked and blocked.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesThe arc of the relationship is more complicated than can be described in this review — which is why it warrants a book of this nature, a short but comprehensive descent into the intertwining private and public lives of two lovable egomaniacs.