New York Times:
- Nathaniel Philbrick on The Whale by Philip Hoare: "Always in the foreground of Hoare's narrative is the whale itself, a
creature that haunts and fascinates him as he travels to old whaling
ports in both Britain and America, where he speaks with cetologists,
naturalists, museum curators and former whalers on a quest to
understand the whale, the cosmos and himself."
- Pamela Paul on The Husbands and Wives Club by Laurie Abraham: "Abraham's great, if melancholic, achievement is flipping Tolstoy on his
head. What lies within the cocoon of most troubled marriages is far
more mundane than you might think. What goes on in happy marriages may,
in fact, be the real mystery."
- Liesl Schillinger on The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald: "As Grunwald's thoughtful novel suggests, babies weren't the only
participants in the behavioral experiments of the last century: the
caregivers were also guinea pigs. And "contact comfort" takes two."
- Mrs. Adams in Winter by Michael O'Brien: "The claims are spirited and rousing, the voyage flat by comparison. The
effect is less like discovering vodka in your water glass than water in
your vodka glass. Mrs. Adams is in far better hands with Mr. O'Brien
than she was in her slog across Europe, but somehow "” between the
welter of period detail and the lofty assertions "” she herself goes
missing in these pages."
- Peter Campion on The Living Fire by Edward Hirsch: "Hirsch situates himself between the ordinary and the ecstatic. The
everyday and the otherworldly temper each other in these excellent
Âpoems, and American poetry gains new strength as a result."
- David Masiel on Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes: "Ironically, the best parts of Matterhorn aren't the battle scenes,
which are at times rendered with a literal precision that borders on
mechanical. Rather it is Marlantes's treatment of pre-combat tension
and rear-echelon politics. It's these in-between spaces that create the
real terror of Matterhorn: military and racial politics; fragging
that threatens the unit with implosion; and night watch in the jungle,
where tigers are as dangerous as the NVA."
- Bill Gifford on About a Mountain by John D'Agata: "The writer he most resembles is Joan Didion circa 1978, only instead of
Me-decade California, his subject is Vegas. And suicide. And, quite
possibly, the end of human civilization."
- Dennis Drabelle on Caught by Harlan Coben: "For all its strands of mystery, the book offers little suspense and few
characters who escape being caricatures. But these shortcomings don't
detract seriously from the impressiveness of the windup toy that Coben,
like a hobbyist with a machine shop in his basement, has soldered
together for the reader's amusement."
The LA Times:
- Eryn Loeb on Something Red by Jennifer Gilmore: "Rarely does anyone say or do something without it being followed by a
memory. This is surely part of the larger point, that our pasts precede
us, messing with our beliefs and choices in ways we can't always
control. "Something Red" may be uneven, but these characters are crafted with
care, conviction and a little self-consciousness -- which seems just as
it ought to be."
- Tim Rutten on A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks: "Although A Week in December is a novel -- at times, a comedy -- of
contemporary manners, Faulks' preoccupation is the inner vacuum that
those manners and frenetic activities conceal -- a lack of human
connection, the contemporary urge to supplant the real with the
- Susan Salter Reynolds on The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves by Siri Hustvedt: "There's no end to the memoirs of illness out there, but this one is
different. There's a nakedness to it -- Hustvedt reveals as much about
herself as she can, but it is not everything because she does not know
everything. Some critical piece is missing. ...something ghostly still walks in these pages. Something beautiful and ghostly and
- James Buchan on The Big Short by Michael Lewis: "In his new book, Lewis is neither obnoxious nor charming. The skies
have fallen. The market Wall Street created in the housing debt of the
very poorest Americans, so-called "sub-prime" mortgage bonds and
various derivative securities, which fell to bits in 2007 and all but
engulfed the world in 2008, is the greatest financial fraud since
the 18th century. Men and women who once made us laugh now make
us shudder. In other words, The Big Short is not half the fun of Liar's Poker, but it is more important."
(*for our Paris readers)