Fiction Review Source: A Literary Link to Current Fiction

Wednesday, December 31, 1997
New York Times.

  • Shadows on the Hudson by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Reviewed by Richard Bernstein.
    "It is a startling, piercing work of fiction, a book with a strong claim to being Singer's masterpiece."
    "Singer, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978."

    Monday, December 29, 1997.
    New York Times.
    Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley. Review by Richard Bernstein.

    Charming Billy by Alice McDermott. Review by Richard Eder.

    Sunday, December 28, 1997
    New York Times Book Review
    Horace Afoot by Frederick Reuss. Reviewed by David Sacks.
    "Meet Horace, a mighty odd fellow, the narrator of this charming, unexpectedly poignant first novel."
    "The simple ending, oddly moving, hits a note of loss and acceptance that could have been written by the original Horace."

    Books in Brief.
    If I Were Boss: The Early Business Stories of Sinclair Lewis. Review by Emily Barton.

    Siberian Light by Robin White. Reviewed by James Polk.

    Lover,traitor: A Jerualem story by Anna Mitgutsch. Review by Liam Callanan.
    Common Ground by Andrew Cowan. Review by Julie Gray.

    Attic Light by Carol Burnham. Review by Erik Burns.

    A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell. Review by Patrick Giles.

    Los Angeles Times.
    Crown of Weeds by Amy Gerstler Review by Christopher Merrill.

    An Irish Eye by John Hawkes. Review by Michael Frank.

    San Francisco Chronicle.
    A Lover's Almanac by Maureen Howard. Review by Mary Mackey.

    Close to the Machine by Ellen Ullman. Review by Patricia Holt.

    A Rush Of Dreamers by John Cech. Review by Karen Peterson Liberatore

    Bleeding London by Geoff Nicholson. Review by Carey Harrison.

    Sunday, December 21, 1997.
    New York Times Book Review.
    Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler. Reviewed by James Shapiro.
    "What saves this novel from being merely a recycling of Richler's stock material (though there's a lot of that here, from the same old lines from Auden to a cameo appearance of Duddy Kravitz) is its fascination with the unreliability of narrative and memory."

    She Loves Me by Peter Esterhazy. Translated by Judith Sollosy. Reviewed by Adam Phillips.
    "In other words, the blandly resonant title of Peter Esterhazy's brilliant novel begs all the questions."
    "In that twilight zone between existential parable and political and domestic realism that has been the great territory of the eastern European writers -- and Esterhazy, a Hungarian, is clearly in the tradition of Kafka, Hrabal and Kundera -- each of these tales is exemplary, but each is lacking a moral."
    "And it is a mark of the quality of Judith Sollosy's translation that one is continually struck by the poetry of Esterhazy's accurate, engaging prose."
    Wallace Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose. Edited by Frank Kermode and Joan Richardson.
    Reviewed by Michael Hofmann.
    "For sheer delight, there is no one like him."

    Heroes Like Us by Thomas Brussig. The Karnau Tapes by Marcel Beyer.
    Reviewed by Michael Upchurch.
    "both novels are urgent, unsettling works, heralding the arrival of two talented and ambitious young writers."
    "Klaus as startling and memorable a character as anyone could want."
    "Marcel Beyer's novel "The Karnau Tapes" starts off on a quieter note ... and is ultimately a far more chilling book."

    Reviewed by Suzanne Ruta.

    Books in Brief
    Birthright by Andrew Coburn. Reviewed by Patrick Farrell.
    Night Ride Home by Barbara Esstman. Reviewed by Polly Morrice.
    The Wonder Worker by Susan Howatch. Reviewed by Betsy Groban.
    The Midden by Tom Sharpe. Reviewed by Liam Callahan.
    Candy Necklace by Cal Bedient. Reviewed by Carol Muske.

    The Luneburg Variation by Paolo Maurensig. Reviewed by William Ferguson

    Thursday, December 18, 1997.
    Washington Post.
    A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds. Reviewed by Wendy Orent.

    Wednesday, December 17, 1997.
    New York Times.
    The Luneburg Variation by Paolo Maurensig. Translated by Jon Rothschild. Review by Richard Bernstein.
    "Paolo Maurensig, a 54-year-old Italian businessman whose finely written, densely mysterious novel "The Luneburg Variation" is his first book."
    "It is an absorbing story, lushly draped in Middle European tragedy, one blending the themes of obsession, history and character."

    Sunday, December 14 1997.
    New York Times.
    Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes. Reviewed by James Shapiro.
    Ted Hughes, Englands Poet laureate, presents a selection of Ovid's tales, translated from the Latin.
    "The result is that rare thing -- an inspired act of translation that stands as vigorous poetry in its own right."
    "Hughes settles on 24 of the 250 or so stories of "The Metamorphoses."

    Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson. Reviewed by Sarah Ferguson.
    "Wilson has performed a stunning and unwelcome feat: he's actually made Northern Ireland seem boring."
    "The winner of the Rooney Prize and the Irish Book Award and a finalist for the Whitbread Award, Wilson is highly regarded on his home turf, but this long-winded, rambling tale, though well written in places, is sadly off the mark."

    The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness by Rick Bass. Reviewed by Michael Gorra.
    "Yet at their best the three novellas in ''The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness'' provide that persuasion. Varied in their settings and characters, unified in their mood and central concerns, they offer an unsentimental but ecstatic portrayal of the physical world."
    "But reading this book has made me glad that some people don't, that there are still writers who can bring the wilderness back alive and pin it to the page."

    Grace and Favor by Thomas Caplan. Reviewed by Roxana Robinson.
    "The story is vague and rickety, full of credibility gaps and psychological non sequiturs."
    "He knows graceful prose, and occasionally achieves it."
    "The dialogue is inauthentic and sententious, and fancy words like "lamian," "apodictically" and "fissiparously" don't provide elegance."

    Leonardo's Horse by R.M. Berry. Reviewed by Tobin Harshaw.
    "Yet here is the Florentine virtuoso of R. M. Berry's remarkable "Leonardo's Horse."
    "Berry is utterly sure-handed in his treatment of the historical characters"

    The Voice Imitator by Thomas Bernhard. Reviewed by Peter Filkins.
    "Consisting of 104 stories, each no longer than a single page, Thomas Bernhard's 1978 collection, ''The Voice Imitator,'' works as a mini-anthology of his obsessions with political corruption, madness, murder and the inability of language to capture, or relieve, the absurdity of life."
    The Springs of Affection: stories of Dublin by Maeve Brennan. Reviewed by Jay Parini.
    "...bringing back into print stories from two collections that have long been unavailable."
    "...Maeve Brennan's book is full of small miracles presented in elegant but simple prose."
    "The Springs of Affection" should bring her back to the table of modern fiction, where her place has been empty for too long."

    Washington Post BookWorld:
    The Calcutta Chromosome: a novel of fevers, delirium, & discovery by Amitav Ghosh. Reviewed by Tamsin Todd.
    "There's no easy way to describe The Calcutta Chromosome. It's part science fiction, part history, part thriller, part detective story. Certain chapters are reminiscent of Dickens or Poe, while others feel like something out of "The X-Files." It's an ambitious, often entertaining novel that addresses, with mixed success, big questions about history, science, knowledge and identity."

    Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler. Reviewed by Jonathan Yardley.
    " Like most of its predecessors, Barney's Version is set in and about the Montreal Jewish community of St. Urbain Street and draws heavily upon its author's experiences. It is funny and engaging, and Richler's admirers will not want to miss it, but somewhat more objective readers are likely to sense that Richler has revisited familiar ground once too often."
    The Wonder Worker by Susan Howatch. Reviewed by Brigitte Weeks.
    "The Wonder Worker is an amazing achievement in a string of unusual and thoughtful novels."

    Philadelphia Inquirer
    Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley Reviewed by Lisa Funderburg.
    "a resonant collection of 14 linked short stories from Walter Mosley."
    "Mosley's other departure from the mystery genre, RL's Dream, is described as a blues novel. Accordingly, then, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned must be a Mingus solo, exquisite notes plucked on the jazz virtuoso's stand-up bass. Each tone sounds with individual beauty, but is best heard as part of the whole."

    The Crystal Frontier: a Novel in Nine Stories by Carlos Fuentes. Reviewed by Edward Hoover.
    "Stilted dialogue and implausible behavior mar even the stories in which Fuentes creates believable characters and situations."
    "As a result, the characters aren't allowed to come alive, and we soon stop believing in them or caring about the ideas they represent."

    A Certain Justice by P.D. James. Reviewed by David Delman.
    "So here's P. D. James, reigning queen of the English mystery, icon of icons, offering up her 13th, which could have been a compelling story of hate and revenge had there been, let's say, 100 pages less of it."
    "She wastes the tidy, sturdy structure, overwhelming it with the kind of self-indulgence all too common among our icons."

    Lost Man's River by Peter Matthiessen Reviewed by John R. Alden.
    "Peter Matthiessen is an extraordinarily accomplished writer, and Lost Man's River displays several of the traits characteristic of his best writing."
    "But Matthiessen's approach to revealing the truth about Ed Watson has weaknesses."

    Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne. Reviewed by Stephen Seplow.
    Another City, Not My Own, Dunne's long-anticipated novel about the O. J. Simpson trial"
    "As enjoyable as all this is to read, the book presents one uncomfortable problem. Much of what's written is known to be true, and almost everything else is plausible"
    "But because Dunne has labeled the book fiction, it's hard to know which newly revealed tidbits really happened and which are made up. And for anyone interested in the Simpson case, which is just about everybody, this is a happy page-turner"

    Byrne by Anthony Burgess. Reviewed by Michael Harrington.
    "Byrne is, perhaps, Burgess' final work--unless some other manuscript has been left in the cupboard. It is a virtuoso effort, a farewell note displaying the linguistic skill and literary style that were Burgess' hallmark."
    "this is classic Burgess"

    Panther in the Basement by Amos Oz. Reviewed by Paula Friedman.
    "With understated drama, and a playfulness that can't help but darken, the internationally acclaimed Israeli writer Amos Oz tells a coming-of-age tale set against tumultuous change."
    "Oz lets us in on the rich inner life of his protagonist and narrator, Proffy (short for professor), with insightful authenticity. In Panther in the Basement, as in many of his other fine novels, including A Perfect Peace (1982) and Don't Call It Night (1996), Oz demonstrates an extraordinary ability to depict the individual and the collective life with a precision that defies stereotype or rhetoric.

    Wednesday, December 10, 1997.
    New York Times.
    Felix in the Underworld by John Mortimer.
    Review by Richard Bernstein.
    "John Mortimer is one of Britain's more prolific literary entertainers, the author of nearly a dozen novels about the irascible barrister Horace Rumpole, familiar to viewers of "Mystery" on public television. Mortimer's latest offering, "Felix in the Underworld," highlights his comic and satirical charms."
    "...this book, whose surprises keep coming right up to the very end, is a charming and worthy addition to the Mortimer oeuvre."
    "...Guillermo Cabrera Infante, exiled Cuban writer, was named winner of the Cervantes Prize, considered the Spanish-speaking world's equivalent of the Nobel prize for literature."

    Tuesday, December 9, 1997.
    New York Times
    Bleeding London by Geoff Nicholson. Review by Michiko Kakutani.
    Previous novels by Nicholson: "Hunters and Gatherers" (1994) and "Still Life With Volkswagens" (1996).
    "As he has done in the past, Nicholson nimbly weaves his eccentric characters' overlapping lives into a wacky, black-humored farce..."
    "Nicholson relates his story with such brio and demented charm that the reader is happy to ignore the novel's flaws, content to sit back and be entertained."

    Sunday, December 7, 1997.
    New York Times Book Review. Best Books of the Year.
    Novels are:

    • American Pastoral by Philip Roth
    • The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
    • Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
    • The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick
    • Toward the End of Time by John Updike
    • Underworld by Don DeLillo

    A Certain Justice by P.D. James Review by Ben Macintyre.
    "...It is precisely the contrast between such external fastidiousness and the complex, sometimes depraved internal lives of James's characters that gives her books such emotive power."
    "James's people are wounded, compromised, familiar souls, whose quotidian frailties are exposed through an eye that is more sharp than generous, often witty but seldom funny."
    "...James finally offers up the guilty party, resolving a complicated plot with impeccable logic."

    Commanche Moon by Larry Macmurtry. Reviewed by Andy Solomon.
    "...a colorful adventure that fills the gap betwen the green days of Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call, seen as young Texas Rangers in the novels "Dead Man's Walk," and their sunset years, depicted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Lonesome Dove.""
    "...McMurtry has created a sprwaling, picaresque novel."
    "...The characters are the novel's strength."
    Tales from the Blue Archives by Lawrence Thornton. Reviewed by Robert Houston.
    "This is the final novel in Lawrence Thorntons trilogy set during Argentina's "dirty war" and its aftermath. Like the first novel in the series, "Imagining Argentina," the winner of the 1987 Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award, and the subsequent "Naming the Spirits," this one, too, is dream driven."
    "Thornton is a wise enough novelist to know that the key to writing political fiction is balance."
    "As strong a novel as...[this] is, it would have been a stronger one if Thornton had had as much confidence in his story as it deserves."

    The Blue Lantern and other stories by Victor Pelevin. Translated by Andrew Bromfield. Reviewed by Ken Kalfus.
    "Born in Moscow in 1962, Pelevin is best known in the West for his short satirical novel "Omon Ra..."
    "Russians are more likely to read Pelevin alonside Andrei Platonov. In Platonov's novel "The Foundation Pit," completed in 1930, workers debate the nature of the universe as they dig the foundation for some vast Soviet building. Like Platonov, Pelevin understands that beyond the narrative screen of language is another reality that we can't quite get at. a whole lot funnier than Platonov"
    Washington Post Book World: Sunday December 7, 1997
    Jonathan Yardley on the past year's books:
    "I greatly admired a half-dozen works of fiction:
    The Actual, by Saul Bellow;
    In the Deep Midwinter, by Robert Clark;
    Nashville 1864: The Dying of the Light, by Madison Jones;
    Publish and Perish: Three Tales of Tenure and Terror, by James Hynes;
    A Spanish Lover, by Joanna Trollope;
    The Universal Donor, by Craig Nova."

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