PositiveThe Dallas Morning News\"Timely and thoughtful, Francisco Cantú\'s memoir puts a human face on the thousands of immigrants who cross the border illegally each month, and reveals the conflicting emotions of the Border Patrol agents who must try to stop them ... Ultimately Cantú — no fan of the horrors of drug cartels — acknowledges that the border has a purpose. But whether it\'s a line, a wall, or a gate, it will always beckon those searching for a better life.\
PositiveThe Dallas Morning NewsWell-written but undeniably harrowing, My Absolute Darling is ultimately a stomach-turning story about what happens when a psychotic father discards societal norms in favor of his own twisted vision of 'family,' and how his distraught daughter struggles to break free ... No matter how exaggerated, My Absolute Darling is a testament to the horrors of abuse, and with its excellent prose and fast-paced plot, it's is a spirited debut, dark and disturbing.
RaveThe Houston ChronicleWith a title that makes a statement about Texas itself, McCarthy offers up a vision of awful power and waning glory, like a tale told by a hermit emerging from the desert, a biblical Western from a cactus-pricked Ancient Mariner … Through squinted eyes this novel can be seen as a morality tale nestled within a fast-paced and compelling crime saga. The narrative seethes with a rhetorical thrust that likens to Dickens' anger at the poverty of England in Bleak House, only here McCarthy rails against the drug trade that is ruining the Texas-Mexico borderland … Like these doomed cowboys, McCarthy cannot turn away from the horror he sees around him. His voice is hoarse, his visions are often nightmares. In No Country for Old Men he has conjured up a heated story that brands the reader's mind as if seared by a knife heated upon campfire flames.
PositiveThe Dallas Morning NewsAt times Heller portrays Celine as the female counterpart to the Dos Equis World's Most Interesting Man mythic figure ... At times one is struck by just how American Heller's novel is: it's a paean to our national parks, celebrity worship, Ivy League universities and gun obsession ... The novel's final act and political revelation turns upon the disquieting power used by such an American aristocrat, and Heller's ultimate implication hints that — for the very rich and well-born — the secrets stay hidden.
Jack E. Davis
PositiveThe Dallas Morning NewsDetailed and exhaustive, written in lucid, impeccable prose, The Gulf is a fine work of information and insight, destined to be admired and cited ... At times The Gulf suffers from the same flaw of several other excellent volumes of nonfiction: Davis looks at the Gulf from seemingly all relevant angles: fisheries, oil production, tourism, history, ecological history, pollution, development and much more. The approach is encyclopedic. Admirable, yes, but a bit exhausting.
PositiveThe Dallas Morning NewsA good title can make a book, and Houston author Chanelle Benz's debut collection of short stories, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, succeeds in part on the bravado of its gritty title ... To some extent it seems a book-length recapitulation of William Faulkner's famous quote, 'The past is never dead. It's not even past.' One can easily argue the accuracy of that claim, but it's more a statement of cultural faith than reality, and Benz pulls the reader into this vortex of past/present with brutal skill and grace ... That eclectic mixture of language and historical era defines Benz's curious fiction, and The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead is an ambitious debut.
Donald Ray Pollack
RaveThe Dallas Morning NewsLike a hybrid masterwork of Quentin Tarantino and Flannery O'Connor, Donald Ray Pollock's second novel, The Heavenly Table, is a comic Southern Gothic romp, hell-bent on making the reader squirm and laugh, often at the same time ... Pollock paints this sordid world with a miniaturist brush, sketching quick images of these sad-sack characters, many of whom work into a kaleidoscopic grand finale. He has a gruesome, lyrical touch ... Ultimately this raucous, raunchy novel is a picaresque triumph.
RaveThe Dallas Morning NewsSmith excels at offering insight into his reserved characters’ psyches through subtle details and masterfully juggles time and place, as well as the various machinations, with dexterity and a lyrical touch for description. There’s a lovely, genteel beauty here. As with Vermeer’s still lifes, the novel has a serene quality that belies its tension and intrigue.
PositiveThe Dallas Morning NewsSearcy has a knack for identifying the dominant emotions in life, often in pairs, such as in the “shame and wonder” title ... His sense of curiosity and obsessions are eclectic, and fit nicely with his urban folksy style.
PositiveThe Dallas Morning NewsIn the tradition of such virtuosos as Vladimir Nabokov and Steven Millhauser, DeWitt seduces the reader with verbal swashbuckling and pyrotechnics while also offering up a charming vision of a Never-Never Land for adults. It’s an entertaining read, complete with its own implication that distraction from the mundane travails of life is sometimes exactly what one needs...One could counter that the mystery ultimately doesn’t add up to much, but that seems a trifle dogmatic. This is a high-spirited romp, whose climax occurs in a grand ballroom of the castle, with three drunken members of the filthy-rich aristocracy, observed by one romantic servant, Lucy himself.