RaveThe GuardianFinkel...subordinated everything to his subjects, to what they experienced and saw. Michael Emory is shot in the head on the roof of a building. James Harrelson burns to death in a Humvee after it is blown up by an IED. Even more harrowing than the violence is its aftermath, first as comrades and medics try to save the injured, then as the CO visits survivors in hospital back in the US … How to convey the inner workings of ravaged minds? By moving, almost inevitably, towards the novelistic...The movement into metaphor here is anchored firmly in the sequence of actions.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkBen Fountain
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewLike the flag raisers of Iwo Jima, the men of Bravo have been whisked back to the United States for a two-week victory tour, climaxing, on the day of the novel, with an appearance at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium … Within 50 pages things are coming nicely into focus, from ‘the woody grain of the turkey’ served up as part of a gigantic buffet, to the shifting choreography of the squad’s dealings with their adoring public … Fountain keeps the reader’s plate piled high. It all happens in tandem; by the time Billy falls for his cheerleader we are in love with the book, and that love finds expression in more and wilder laughter … The book seems like nothing else so much as a single wonderful scene — with a brief intermission at Billy’s home — from which all traces of initial uncertainty have been removed.
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: StoriesDenis Johnson
RaveThe GuardianHe led a certain life and found ways of giving expression to that life, with varying degrees of imaginative embellishment. After a while, that too – the expressing, the inventing – became parts of the life which were, in turn, folded into the mix, so he wrote about being a writer, though this writer both was and was not the author of the book you’re now reading about … The secret of all this is the shifting wattage, the slipshod magnificence and crazy wonder of the Johnsonian sentence. Clause by clause, word by word, anything becomes plausible. Control is achieved through willing proximity to its loss. It seems he’s ‘just filling a notebook with jazz,’ but then these directionless improvisations acquire the weight of stories.