Category: the-art-of-narrative

  • The Deep Blue Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.  Scribner.  438 pp.  ***1/2 I was wildly enthusiastic about Jennifer Egan’s previous novel, A Visit from the Good Squad.  That book was aesthetically stunning, every chapter from a different point of view, a narrative that was wildly distorted in time, a set of characters that only vaguely related to one another ... Read more
  • To Nowhere On the Road from Road Novels 1957-1960 by Jack Kerouac.  Edited by Douglas Brinkley.  Library of America.  864 pp. It’s an odd feeling to reread On the Road after just reading The Dharma Bums for the first time.  In a way it’s the same book all over again, Jack Kerouac on a mad dash around the ... Read more
  • Drunken Saint The Dharma Bums from Road Novels 1957-1960 by Jack Kerouac.  Edited by Douglas Brinkley.  Library of America.  864 pp. ***1/2 Jack Kerouac is the spiritual father of every whacked-out hippie who ever stumbled his way through the Sixties, head bobbing in mild agreement, mouth perpetually grinning, a beard flowing around his collar.  Kerouac himself was a ... Read more
  • Is That a Promise? Ruminations on Star Wars: The Last Jedi a film by Rian Johnson.  With Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega.  ***1/2 For the critics who are now active and influential, the Star Wars movies were their first epics, the movies they grew up on and worshiped.  I’m trying to think of what might ... Read more
  • Ain’t Got One The Shape of Water a film by Guillermo del Toro.  With Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer.  ****1/2 The Shape of Water is a tribute to movies from the fifties, men in suits and fedoras, women in dresses, the Red Menace hovering everywhere, monsters emerging from the deep.  Two of its primary characters, Elisa ... Read more
  • Problem Solved Tishomingo Blues from Four Later Novels by Elmore Leonard.  Library of America.  961 pp.  $40.00. No sooner do I complain about a problem in Elmore Leonard’s work—the fact that every novel seemed to feature a monstrous guy who killed people casually and unnecessarily, as if such people don’t need explaining—than it disappeared.  Tishomingo Blues includes plenty ... Read more
  • Who You Really Are (You Knew All Along) Coco a film by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.  With Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach.  ***** I went to this movie as an act of desperation.  Every day I read in the New York Times about the marvelous movies that are arriving for the holiday season and the great reviews they’ve gotten, ... Read more
  • My Elmore Leonard Problem Out of Sight from Four Later Novels by Elmore Leonard.  Library of America.  961 pp. $40.00. I’m coming to the end of my Elmore Leonard period.  I never thought, when I decided to look into his Detroit novels because my son now lives in Detroit and I’ve gotten to know the place a little, that I ... Read more
  • Time is a What? A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.  Anchor Books.  340 pp.  $16.00. ***** I’m aware as a writer that many people I read are more talented than I, but now and then I’m pulled up short by a writer who does something I couldn’t even aspire to.  I felt that way about War and ... Read more
  • Bitch on Wheels Careens out of Control Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film by Martin McDonagh.  With Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges. ****1/2 If I could sue a trailer for false advertising, I would sue the one I saw for Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, which seems to promise a hilarious comedy in which Frances McDormand releases her ... Read more