Fiction & Literature Book Reviews (page 2634)

THE MOONS OF JUPITER by Alice Munro
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 1982

"But the special passion and unique territory of her previous collections are only intermittently evident here—making this something of a let-down for Munro admirers."
In Lives of Girls and Women and The Beggar Maid (the Flo and Rose stories), Canadian short-story writer Munro drew unusual strength and sharpness from the vivid particulars of growing-up with—and growing out from—a stifling yet intense Canadian background. Read full book review >
RABBIT IS RICH by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 7, 1981

"Still, whatever its limitations as a narrative, this is commanding work from a writer whose great, wide intelligence is probably unrivaled in American fiction: Rabbit lives, if perhaps a bit less vitally now, and most serious readers will want to keep track of him."
Should Updike's longer fiction prove truly lasting, it may well be in the form of the Rabbit novels—if only because they will so precisely tell future generations what the aging, late-20th-century industrial East of the US was like in sight, smell, sound, and social economy. Read full book review >

THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE (BALLANTINE READER'S CIRCLE) by John Irving
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 30, 1981

How many times can Irving, novelist-as-juggler, throw the same subjects, metaphors, and tricks—bears, motorcycles, prep schools, hotels, Vienna, muscle-building, feminism—up into the air? Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 8, 1981

"One misses the lighter British touch here, perhaps (and the one Michael Gilbert piece is disappointing), but mystery readers who like a light five-minute read just before bed (or between bus stops) will find this a solid source of mild mini-pleasures."
A generous collection of "short-shorts"—crime stories whose brevity (2000 words or less) is often their major attraction; most of the plot twists here are familiar, but there's no time for the belaboring or padding that afflict so many of the longer mystery-magazine stories. Read full book review >
THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS by Ian McEwan
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1981

"So, once again, McEwan seems to be a huge talent constricted by the need to preach, philosophize, or work out private obsessions; and one can only hope that writing beguiling but disappointing essay-stories like this one will free him to write more wide-ranging, full-visioned fiction in the future."
The Ian McEwan paradox continues. Read full book review >

ZUCKERMAN UNBOUND by Philip Roth
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1981

"So, though there's much that's engaging here—the superb dialogue, the deft comedy, the mostly seductive narration, the titillating recognition-factors for Portnoy's Complaint readers—those who responded to the subtler, fable-like connections of The Ghost Writer will be sorely disappointed by this much cruder, less daring, and largely redundant sequel."
In The Ghost Writer (1979), Roth explored the tensions between being-an-artist and being-a-human-being; he used the nakedly autobiographical figure of young (in the mid-1950s) writer Nathan Zuckerman; he compressed all the action into a few days; he wove his theme through sequences ranging from fantasy and farce to Chekhovian realism; and he came up with a magical novel, perhaps the best book of his career. Read full book review >
THE HERALD by Michael Shaara
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1981

"Smoothly written—but stuck in a no-man's-land somewhere between science fiction (or disaster-thriller) and serious fable."
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Killer Angels: a sort of doomsday fairy tale—occasionally poetic but mostly just implausible and stereotype-bound. Read full book review >
IF ON A WINTER'S NIGHT A TRAVELER by Italo Calvino
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 21, 1981

"But it pulls out straight thereafter—and in all this is a delightful, never too-coy book (yet very Italian and mischievously gestural), a dandy trick done with mirrors that are all but smudgeless."
A romp—a grand Calvino-style romp, complete with a fun-house tilt, a high-gloss (but consistently good-humored) elegance, and a big, telescoping, central conceit. Read full book review >
THE MEETING AT TELGTE by Gunter Grass
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 15, 1981

"Those especially keen on 17th-century post-Opitz German literature will enjoy the dabs of literary portraiture; otherwise, the intrinsic interest is very slim—and only Grass' eminence can explain this literary curiosity's mainstream publication here."
Grass has lately become enamored of present/past historical parallels, sometimes with splendidly epic results. Read full book review >
NOBLE HOUSE by James Clavell
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 30, 1981

There's nothing wrong with Clavell's new "Asian Saga" novel that cutting 900 pages wouldn't fix. Read full book review >
YOU CAN'T KEEP A GOOD WOMAN DOWN by Alice Walker
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 29, 1981

A thin, often didactic, largely disappointing collection of stories from an enormously gifted author of short fiction (In Love & Trouble) and novels—whose storytelling powers seem wasted on the generally simple-minded material here. Read full book review >
THE ULTIMATE GOOD LUCK by Richard Ford
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 23, 1981

"But this second novel fulfills none of that promise, settling instead for dismal posturing and imitative melodrama."
As Ford (A Piece of My Heart) goes about setting up his initial scene—a rootless, alienated American in Oaxaca, Mexico, picks up an equally rootless girl and takes her to a boxing match where one of the fighters promptly has one of his eyeballs punched out—you begin to get a sinking feeling. 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 >