Chosen one of the Best Books of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly, Vogue, and The New Yorker, and a New York Times Editor’s Choice, Activities of Daily Living is a debut novel that feels as if it’s written by a self-confident and experienced craftsman.
At first I thought that The Son fell into a separate category, that of sheer virtuosity. It’s no accident that it was chosen for the Black Lizard Vintage Crime Collection, which includes classics such as The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon.
Seventeen years ago, I read Colm Toibin’s fictional biography of Henry James called The Master. It was the best book I’d read in a long time, the marvelously imagined life of a great writer. It got rave reviews. Now, with The Magician, Toibin has done it again, this time with life of Thomas Mann, a work equally persuasive, intimate, and marvelous in its power to compel belief.
A work of tremendous scope and ambition, this novel dares to imagine what it would take to protect the entire world from environmental collapse.
In Lucy by the Sea, the sequel to Oh, William (reviewed here last year), Strout has once again adopted a plain, down-to-earth manner. The speaker sounds neither highly educated nor very articulate, but comes across as an ordinary person with no claim to being special. If anything, the tone is more flat-footed than ever. But the enterprise is not pedestrian.