5 Book Reviews You Need to Read This Week ‘Literary Focus’

Our hurricane of great reviews this week includes Keith Olbermann on David Maraniss’ Path illuminated by lightningKatie Waldman on Emi Tagi’s blank diaryDan Chuan on Adam Levine Mt. ChicagoHamilton Kane on Mark Proud Kiki Man RayAnd Brandon Taylor in Alejandro Zambra’s book bonsai.

Brought to you by Book Marks, “Rotten Tomatoes for books” from Lit Hub.


Lightning Path: The Life of Jim Thorpe_David Maranis

In Thorpe’s comprehensively researched new biography, David Maraniss quietly allows witnesses to admire [Abel] Kevyat expresses his eternal amazement at how well Thorpe apparently did everything, and how beautifully he did it. A 22-year-old football player from the Army team named Dwight Eisenhower asserts how: “He can do everything anyone else can do and do it better” … But Maranes’ choice for the title of the book is in itself an indication that His story of Thorpe’s life is as much about sadness and exploitation as it is about athletic perfection. Of at least four translations of Thorpe’s Sac and Fox name, Maraniss chose “Path Lit by Lightning” rather than the more commonly used “Bright Path”. Lightning is not just a metaphor for speed or athletic power. When it lights up, you may only do so for a moment before you plunge everything back into darkness. And he could also kill… In the same calendar year that Thorpe’s running success paved the way for professional football in this country and he took his five-a-side gold medal with a score three times better than the runner-up, and he was not allowed to become a US citizen… But Maranis’ greatest contribution to the real-life record of the superior athlete is his account of the years after Thorpe’s glory. From 1923 until his nearly death 30 years later… Jim Thorpe was—in the agonizing words of Maranis—”the mathematician’s immigrant.”

– Keith Olbermann, for David Maranis Lightning Path: The Life of Jim Thorpe (New York Times book review)

Emi Yagi_Diary from Vacuum Cover

“Some of the buildings prove so irresistible that they become crutches, justifying the colorless execution. That is not the case here, though Yagi’s maneuvering is tempting enough to support a more casual writer… The moments refer to a novel concerned primarily with political commentary.” Yagi doesn’t simply explore how “pregnancy” affects Shibata, both socially and psychologically. Her designs are deeper and stranger. She wants to push against broad assumptions about life, vitality, and spirit, and where to find these qualities… Yagi is increasingly blurring the lines between fertility. and sterility, and between spirit and inanimateness.It sometimes accomplishes this through magical realism…Behind this beautiful (and funny!) mysticism stands a cynical, and perhaps true, bet that readers may not be able to evade the value of a woman’s soul without a fetus to embody it. blank diary It presents one of the most enthusiastic cases I’ve read in My Woman’s Inner Life, A Woman’s Creative Pulse and Rich Inner Life. But even this description fails to comprehend what Yagi is after: those parts of us, precious and perhaps hostile, which dissolve into darkness when described, and can only be compared to alien life forms.”

Katie Waldman on Emi Tagi’s blank diary (New Yorker)

Mt Chicago Adam Levine

“It’s a timely setting in this age of disaster that goes beyond parody, and Levine gleefully relishes the poorly formal response…one of those epic novels as sweepingly polyphonic and absurd as they used to be made, even though Levine looks a lot like his fellow Chicagoan Stanley Elkin.Like Elkin, he has a boisterous but sad, nihilistic sense backed by vaudeville streak;Like Elkin, he has a knack for the quirky and introverted, shaggy-lazy dog ​​joke that wanders and ranges until you almost forget the setting…Unlike Elkin, Levin doesn’t always know when enough is enough. There is strong For infinite humor The energy here, which, while often fantastic, can approach the kind of “Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson making cocaine together” is a kind of liveliness … There is no doubt that Levine has a gifted intelligence and an expert in presentation, but even with The best comedians, at a certain point the orchestra starts playing and someone behind the scenes searches for the curtain hook… Although sometimes exasperating self-indulgence, Chicago mountain It contains clips of true magic and brilliance… In the concluding sections, when Apter and Gladman finally meet, the author strikes a sustained operatic balance of comedy, sadness, and despair that’s well worth the wait. It is truly an amazing achievement and brought tears to my eyes. Those last 100 pages showed me what kind of novel this talented author really can do.”

– Dan Chuan on Adam Levine Chicago mountain (New York Times book review)

Kiki Man Ray: Art, Love, and Rivalry in 1920s Paris Hardcover

With the immediacy (if not intimacy) of Patti Smith kids only, takes us back to the City of Light after World War I, reeling from the massacre of millions of young soldiers… At the dawn of the Jazz Age, everyone seemed to want to kick their heels, drink champagne, and sleep… Mr. Braude lavishly evokes this environment, extracting the notes and correspondence of Kiki and Man Ray, and supplementing them with accounts from friends, colleagues, patrons…Kiki Man Ray The engraving features a lot: Duchamp, Picabia, Peggy Guggenheim, Picasso, Eric Satie, Hemingway … In the background looms avant-garde commodification, which heralded the age of the machine; Once Dadaism reached its zenith, then gave way to Surrealism, as wealthy collectors (many of them American) scrambled to the next big thing… Kiki was above all a catalyst, the right person in the right place at the right time, and a fulcrum for Mann Ray et al., her influence has shaped the work of writers, filmmakers, and singers… She has played a brilliantly poor man, mixing identities as self-proclaimed, and insisting on his own cabaret… She bridges the gap between the nineteenth century paradigm – I think Victorine Myurent, Inspirational Manet and herself an accomplished painter – and the independent and liberated women of her time, such as Josephine Baker and Louise Brooks, and those that came after World War II… Kiki Man Ray She rescues the protagonist from the trash of history and eloquently defends the vitality and importance of the world she helped shape.”

– Hamilton Cain on Mark Proud Kiki Man Ray (The Wall Street Journal)


“There is something inherently poignant in the idea of ​​first love condemned to perishability that can never be recovered. Emotion is often disguised if the reading is empty because, when used irresponsibly, it can reduce the value of the story to the point of imitation. However, Zambra turned Feelings and nostalgia for occasions for humor, vulnerability and truth through the dissemination of frank privacy.There are no canned phrases in Zambra…The novel’s changing and strange structure lends bonsai Fun quality. The whole story seems governed by the logic of a dream, full of coincidence and ghostly echoes… There is a way that such coincidences make the story seem absurd or clumsy, as if they are damages to reality or cheap effects. But I did not find this to be the case in bonsai. Part of this is due to Zambra’s mastery of tone and timing, but more than anything, it’s due to the impromptu but informal way in which Zambra presents these seashells – there is little surprise, but nothing too difficult, and nothing that excites too much. There is a dreamy, associative quality to the novel that makes it feel real, beautiful, and moving. I leave bonsai I feel a little dreary pain in my ribs, as if an important part of me has been robbed.”

– Brandon Taylor on Alejandro Zambra bonsai (New York Times book review)

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