Fleet-footed...brain-whirring ... Punctuated by clever dialogue and crisp social critiques, Barbash’s incisive, funny, and poignant portrait of talented people and a city in flux illuminates the risks of celebrity and the struggle to become one’s true self.
Keen and understated ... relies too heavily for tension on the reader’s awareness that an assassin’s bullet will fell Lennon, but allows the rock star some choice observations on the nature of his and his friend Buddy’s status ... Despite its occasional sluggishness, The Dakota Winters retains a stubborn appeal. The reader wants to find out how Buddy’s attempted comeback fares, and what effect the dreaded but inevitable assassination of Lennon has on an emotionally vulnerable Anton.
Most of the historical context feels authentic; some of it is rote; a few bits are wholly implausible. Teddy Kennedy (who called his wife 'Joansie,' not 'Joanie') converses no more believably than Lennon ... With his considerable talents, the author can’t help but do a number of things very well... but there’s an airless slow motion to the production as a whole ... . The book might have benefited from the multiple points of view employed in the author’s first novel. Some episodes are overelaborated, and some incidents that we only hear about seem to be lost opportunitie ... by underlining so many of the book’s themes and meanings, the author makes the reader lazy, asks so much less of him than [Barbash's] compacted short stories did ... Like the proverbial thin man trying to get out of a fat one, a half-dozen stories could break free from this book. In Mr. Barbash’s capable hands, their individual effects would be greater than the sum of this novel’s parts.