Fiction & Literature Book Reviews (page 2630)

THE PAPERS OF SAMUEL MARCHBANKS by Robertson Davies
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 1986

"While that invites his many fans, others will find this volume sometimes amusing, but mostly ephemeral."
This hefty volume brings together three collections of newspaper columns by the pseudonymous Marchbanks. Read full book review >
GHOSTS by Paul Auster
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 20, 1986

"Walden to It's a Wonderful Life), this is a thin, derivative novella—devoid of genuine mystery-puzzle appeal (unlike City of Glass), thoroughly cliched in its mystery-as-metaphor pretensions."
Much less interesting than City of Glass (1985), this second exercise in avant-garde mystery metafiction follows a predictable, essentially familiar scenario: a detective, hired to shadow an enigmatic stranger, finds himself caught up in an existential, doppelganger-ish identity crisis. Read full book review >

THE NEWS FROM IRELAND by William Trevor
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 1986

"As always, Trevor, the consummate storyteller, writes with skill and compassion as he scrupulously weighs the press and passions of time and event on restless lives straining after illusions—or held by the potency of an evil never fully understood."
Another Trevor collection of short stories is always good news, and here in these 12 tales (many previously published in The New Yorker), the author again attends to the usually sad, small defeats of victims caught in the consequences of distant searing events, betrayed by their own wrong turns or, worse, simple inadequacy. Read full book review >
AN ARTIST OF THE FLOATING WORLD by Kazuo Ishiguro
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 23, 1986

"Ono and his dilemma are rigidly contoured from the first—but we seem to be more reading about it than simultaneously suffering, feeling with it."
Set in the years immediately after WW II in Japan, Ishiguro's novel bears down upon a Japanese painter, Ono, now middle-aged, who has totally renounced his art, who decided (some years before) to make no more. Read full book review >
BLOOD TEST by Jonathan Kellerman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1986

"A twisted, contrived, and turgid story with red herrings the size of small whales, and a stumbling, murky finale."
A disappointing second outing for California child-psychologist Alex Delaware (When The Bough Breaks, 1985); this time he tracks down a little boy desperately in need of cancer treatment. Read full book review >

THE SPORTSWRITER by Richard Ford
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1986

"Ford's singular voice seems squandered on such disposable wisdom and such an insignificant life."
For all its technical virtuosity, Ford's chummy narrative fails to transcend its rather tired genre: the male, mid-life crisis novel. Read full book review >
IN THE COUNTRY OF LAST THINGS by Paul Auster
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1986

"A stunning achievement."
Auster here turns from the metafictional playfulness of his recent detective yarns (City of Glass, 1985, and Ghosts, p. 822), and offers a spare and chilling account of a civilization in decay It's a post-apocalyptic vision of urban holocaust that bears witness to past, present, and future devastations. Read full book review >
FOE by J.M. Coetzee
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 1986

"Often piquant—but also some very, very thin reeds on which to build."
Sometimes maddeningly, sometimes brilliantly elusive, Coetzee's new novel gives the Robinson Crusoe story a deconstructionist turn, adding new characters and including the vexed reactions and wisdoms of the original's author himself, Defoe (the foe—upon whom a story breaks not always willingly). Read full book review >
THE BROOM OF THE SYSTEM by David Foster Wallace
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 20, 1986

"Despite flashes of real genius, it's a heady Animal House vision."
This unusual debut, the first novel to be published simultaneously in hard-cover and as a paperback in Penguin's "Contemporary American Fiction" series, suffers from a severe case of manic impressiveness. Read full book review >
THE COUNTERLIFE by Philip Roth
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 1, 1986

"Certainly Roth's most complex, ambitious work—and one of his best."
Much of the last two decades' metafictional nattering is made to look like so much sandbox-play by Roth's new novel; if the technique of ostensibly real characters imagining they're in books (and vice-versa) has a fatal flaw, it's that neither character nor book usually tackles the unbearable alibis, transgressions, and needs—and the punishingly naked absurdity—that both art and life seem to demand. Read full book review >
THE MAMMOTH HUNTERS by Jean M. Auel
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 6, 1985

"A biggie."
Book Three in the adventures of Ayla-of-the-Ice Age, the Cro-Magnon Phi Beta who is raised (and cast out by) Neanderthal "flatheads." Read full book review >
THE OLD GRINGO by Carlos Fuentes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1985

"Excessively hectoring and deterministic, a book that's unusually soapy and obvious from a writer as often adroit as Fuentes."
Set during the era of the Villa uprising in Mexico, 1916, Fuentes' book tracks the mysterious passage made by cynic/satirist Ambrose Bierce, at age 71, into then very dangerous Mexico, the place where he wished to end his life: "But maybe he was carrying a different fear, one he voiced as he crossed the frontier: 'I'm afraid that each of us carries the real frontier inside.'" Bierce is a mass of regrets—mostly because the cavalier manner of his literary persona undermined his capacity for family love—and in Mexico he seeks a stark finale for his life, an expiation. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Katey Sagal
author of GRACE NOTES
April 10, 2017

In her memoir Grace Notes, actress and singer/songwriter Katey Sagal takes you through the highs and lows of her life, from the tragic deaths of her parents to her long years in the Los Angeles rock scene, from being diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty-eight to getting her big break on the fledgling FOX network as the wise-cracking Peggy Bundy on the beloved sitcom Married…with Children. Sparse and poetic, Grace Notes is an emotionally riveting tale of struggle and success, both professional and personal: Sagal’s path to sobriety; the stillbirth of her first daughter, Ruby; motherhood; the experience of having her third daughter at age 52 with the help of a surrogate; and her lifelong passion for music. “While this book is sure to please the author’s many fans, its thoughtful, no-regrets honesty will no doubt also appeal to readers of Hollywood memoirs seeking substance that goes beyond gossip and name-dropping,” our critic writes. “A candid, reflective memoir.” View video >