Reviews

May 22, 2015

Off Leash: On André Alexis’s ‘Fifteen Dogs’ 1

by

Alexis’s conceit, in which dogs are caught between human and canine worlds, in a sense reflects their real-life predicament: dogs are creatures upon whom owners project distinctly human intelligence and emotions.

May 22, 2015

The Creative Chrysalis: On Neal Stephenson’s ‘Seveneves’ 7

by

A big heaping slab of idea-packed, throwback, hard sci-fi, Stephenson’s latest brick of a book is thought-provoking but staid; a sad turn for one of the sharpest, most irreverent minds in a genre still reinventing itself.

May 20, 2015

Beyond Rent Hikes: On DW Gibson’s ‘The Edge Becomes The Center’ 0

by

Gibson understands that a conversation about gentrification can be an opening to talk about everything from the nuts and bolts of tenant law, to the habits of graffiti artists, to the legacy of Jane Jacobs, to the future of the DiBlasio administration, to the popularity of Project Runway, to the basic human question of how to get along with other people.

May 15, 2015

The Corporate Drug Cartel: On Sam Quinones’s ‘Dreamland’ 3

by

Quinones adds layers of nauseating detail: the exorbitant bonuses for Purdue salespeople who peddled OxyContin to primary-care docs under-trained in treating chronic pain; the promotional videos that under-reported the pill’s addictive potential; the OxyContin-branded hats, toys, mugs, golf balls, CDs, pads, and pens that rained down on doctors.

May 13, 2015

Down in the Oedipal Mud: On Kent Russell’s ‘I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son’ 13

by

Kent Russell, like John Jeremiah Sullivan, never adopts the let’s-laugh-at-the-Clampetts pose common to inferior writers of inferior non-fiction.

May 12, 2015

The Technological Panopticon: On Catie Disabato’s ‘The Ghost Network’ 0

by

The danger isn’t knowledge, but rather the loss of privacy; a panopticon is damaging precisely because constant observation erodes a subject’s will to resist. Without privacy, we become conformists, our own jailers.

May 12, 2015

A Portrait of the Critic as a Young Man: On James Wood’s ‘The Nearest Thing to Life’ 0

by

The Nearest Thing to Life gives us a profound portrait of an inimitable artist.

April 28, 2015

Clickworthy Headlines about ‘The Fishermen’ by Chigozie Obioma 2

by

In writing about a novel like The Fishermen, I find myself in a dilemma. I loved it. I’m tempted to make a grand claim about this book, but which should I make?

April 24, 2015

Fish Out of Water: On Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s ‘The Royal We’ 0

by

Underneath the frothy exterior is sharp look at the clash between modern women and the ways they are portrayed.

April 17, 2015

Like Father, Like Son: Literary Parentage in Reif Larsen’s ‘I Am Radar’ 4

by

Larsen acknowledges the great authors who came before him, how their influence on him is undeniable, unavoidable, deep –– but that he is still his own writer, one with formidable gifts and looming ambition.