Old Media Monday: Reviewing the Reviewers

Tom on May 10, 2010

New York Times:

Washington Post:

  1. Marie Arana on Private Life by Jane Smiley: "Smiley's virtuosity should be no surprise to us. She has proven herself in a dozen wildly different books.... But 'Private Life' is a quantum leap for this author, a book that -- despite its slow start and initial glare -- burrows deep into the psyche and stays. It kept me up all night, long after I'd finished it, remembering the lives of my mother and grandmothers, recalling every novel about women I had ever read, from 'Anna Karenina' to 'My Antonia.' In a fair world, it will get all the readers it deserves. It's not often that a work as exceptional as this comes along in contemporary American letters."
  2. Dirda on Ilustrado by Miguel Suyjuco: "Such awards, as readers know, all too often go to earnest, high-minded, politically correct and rather dull books. In this case, I picture the judges, weary from perusing massive laser-printed works of heart-sinking merit, suddenly rejoicing at the discovery of a manuscript as engaging as this one, absolutely assured in its tone, literary sophistication and satirical humor.... 'Ilustrado' is, then, more a novel of wonderful parts than a completely successful whole. But Syjuco is only in his mid-30s, and he already possesses the wand of the enchanter."
  3. Philip Caputo on War by Sebastian Junger: "With his narrative gifts and vivid prose -- as free, thank God, of literary posturing as it is of war-correspondent chest-thumping -- Junger masterfully chronicles the platoon's 15-month tour of duty. But what elevates 'War' out of its particular time and place are the author's meditations on the minds and emotions of the soldiers with whom he has shared hardships, dangers and spells of boredom so intense that everyone sits around wishing to hell something would happen (and wishes to God it was over when, inevitably, it does)."

Los Angeles Times:

Globe and Mail:

The Guardian:

The New Yorker:

Virginia Quarterly Review:


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