Reviews

April 7, 2015

Love and Land: Ann Packer’s ‘The Children’s Crusade’ and the Legacy of ‘East of Eden’ 0

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The inheritance of Steinbeck in Packer’s multigenerational novel is strong and diffuse.

April 1, 2015

Our Basest Instincts: On Jon Ronson’s ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ 3

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If 21st-century technology has made public shaming easier, faster, and more random, it’s also made us all targets. This book makes it clear than anything you say or do can be held against you in a court of opinion, by people who don’t know anything about you, in perpetuity.

March 31, 2015

Beyond Binaries: On ‘Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids’ 14

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I never placed before myself an either/or choice: writing or parenthood. I do think it’s possible to love your child unconditionally, and to also care deeply about one’s artistic pursuits. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

March 19, 2015

Choosing Not to Flee: On Helen Macdonald’s ‘H is for Hawk’ 0

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The echoes of myth in Macdonald’s writing, however subtle and unobtrusive, lend her book an emotional weight usually reserved only for literature, and a grace only for poetry.

March 18, 2015

All This Hyperconscious Bad Faith: Horacio Castellanos Moya’s ‘The Dream of My Return’ 0

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If he could get healthy, and stop drinking, he might find a girl with a sweet ass, like his wife.

March 9, 2015

The Inanity of American Plutocracy: On Paul Beatty’s ‘The Sellout’ 1

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Beatty’s voice is as appealing, erudite, and entertaining. It is a lacerating, learned, witty, and vulgar voice — brash and vulnerable and self-righteous in its jeremiad against self-righteousness of any kind.

March 6, 2015

All the Dumb Young Literary Stand-Ins: On Arthur Bradford’s ‘Turtleface and Beyond’ 1

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These are often stories about young men doing stupid shit, or young men not doing enough good shit, or young men doing good shit in the wrong way.

March 4, 2015

An Intimate Guest: On Lynne Tillman’s ‘What Gets Kept’ 0

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Tillman’s authorial voice is singular, and her spoken voice is, too. It’s truly an amplification of the voice on the page. Many people have remarked on the quality of Tillman’s voice: its strength and intellect, its wit and warmth. It’s also raspy, sensitive, perceptive, keen—delivered with a New York accent.

March 3, 2015

Cohesion Is Not Continuity: On Sarah Manguso’s ‘Ongoingness’ 0

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There is a remarkable sureness to this book, a calm hush like that of a person who speaks softly so that you lean in to listen.

March 2, 2015

On Forgetting: Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘The Buried Giant’ 5

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At some moments, I felt I had found an apocryphal eighth Chronicle of Narnia, written by a particularly cheerless, possibly aphasic disciple of C.S. Lewis.