BY NICO VREELAND

[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]



The Great Night
, by Chris Adrian, reviewed by Alexandra Mullen (BN Review)

I usually decline retellings of classics (this one takes A Midsummer Night’s Dream to San Francisco)—honestly, can’t you just rip off Shakespeare without talking about it, like everybody else? But Mullen calls The Great Night “viscerally thrilling” and says Adrian’s prose “crackles and purrs.” And Adrian’s hobbyhorses evidently include death, alcoholism, hallucinations, and magic ponies. So… worth a look. [Get The Great Night at Powell’s.]


Toxicology, by Jessica Hagedorn, reviewed by Carmela Ciuraru (Boston Globe)

Like “modern retellings,” addiction narratives are not the key to my heart. I’m mostly interested in this one because the Globe doesn’t give easy A’s—if they like a book, there’s generally a good reason for it. Still, it’s a book about addiction and depression, some of the least compelling (or, at least, hardest to write about) themes I can think of. [Get Toxicology at Powell’s.]


Satori, by Don Winslow, reviewed by Kristin Thiel (L.A. times)

Satori, which has actually been out for almost two months, is the authorized prequel to Trevanian’s Shibumi. Trevanian has been described as the world’s best airport fiction writer, and Satori sounds like it fits the bill: wildly over the top and great fun. Sure, an authorized prequel of a 30-year-old cult classic sounds like a weird thing to write, but Thiel’s enthusiasm—for a genre she admittedly doesn’t often like—is enough for me to give it a closer look. [Get Satori at Powell’s.]


There Is No Year, by Blake Butler, reviewed by Joseph Salvatore (New York Times)

From this review, Butler’s latest novel is a tug-of-war between “an eye-widening narrative puzzle” and a postmodern morass that “abandon[s] narrative pleasure.” In the end, Salvatore calls it “well-made art.” Read his list of the novel’s weirdnesses to judge for yourself. [Get There Is No Year at Powell’s.]


In brief: I love Alice in Wonderland, and somehow I’d missed this side of it. I wish I had continued to miss it. … The NYRB takes on DFW’s oeuvre, and, for some reason, also the Julie Taymor production of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, despite the fact that she was fired two months ago. … Vintage thrillers by an early master of suspense. … And here’s some true crime, if you prefer. … Julia Child was in the OSS. … Yet another review trying to convince us that yet another book about vampires and werewolves is worth even more of our precious time. Ugh.

Advertisements