MixedThe Los Angeles Review of BooksRivlin spent eight months reporting for The New York Times in post-Katrina New Orleans, and it shows in the structure of his book: after careful attention to the storm and its immediate aftermath, he attempts to squeeze the past nine years into the last 50 or so pages ... Much of Katrina: After the Flood will read like old news for not just New Orleanians, but for anyone with a passing familiarity of the city’s recent changes and challenges.
Deep SouthPaul Theroux
PanLos Angeles Review of BooksRegrettably, Deep South reads as disaster porn for those who can’t bother to renew their passports — a Heart of Darkness set in the Southern heartland.
The RefugeesViet Thanh Nguyen
PositiveThe AV ClubIn The Refugees the living are haunted by their lovers, their children, themselves. They are wealthy, poor, and middle-class. Tour guides, shopkeepers, and hucksters. They are Vietnamese, American, and Vietnamese-American ... Others are haunted by the strangeness of California, by months spent in refugee camps, by years, if not lifetimes, spent living in another world ... Fans of The Sympathizer might miss Nguyen’s finely filigreed prose, byzantine-absurdist plotting, and Kubrickian dark humor in these stories. Still, The Refugees will haunt its readers, especially in these times, when refugee stories need to be told, shared, and told again, ad infinitum.
Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an AdultBruce Handy
PositiveThe AV Club...a terrific rumpus of a journey into the world of illustrated and young reader classics that Maurice Sendak grumpily termed 'Kiddiebookland,' and Dr. Seuss teasingly called 'brat books' ... Early on, it becomes evident where Handy is heading, toward the greatest mystery of all: death...Unfortunately, Wild Things never really answers where all this death comes from. Is it rooted in the fantastical grimness of the Brothers Grimm? Does the fact that so many children’s authors remained childless (Brown, Sendak, Seuss, Louisa May Alcott) have something to do with it?
Dragon TeethMichael Crichton
PanThe AV ClubIt’s all very Tintin Goes West, the kind of adolescent adventure novel where a minor character succumbs to his fate with the last words, 'Damn Indians…Unfortunately, Dragon Teeth will offer little to Jurassic Park junkies. Even William’s accidental discovery of a set of Brontosaurus bones—the titular 'teeth of dragons'—become little more than a MacGuffin in a protracted, Yojimbo-esque stage piece set in the town of Deadwood. On to the next mosquito. Dragon Teeth has no bite.