His prose is brisk and well-paced, with many surprising insights along the way. The best way to grasp the breakneck music of bebop revolutionary Parker, Gioia says, is counterintuitive yet disarmingly simple: “I want you to sing along with the music.”
At first, you think you’re being asked to drink water from a fire hose. But “even if you stumble or are out of tune, you will gain insights into the music that are much harder to reach via quiet, passive listening.” It’s also a lot of fun, and before long you’re no longer just a listener but an active participant in the music.
Allow me to skip the prelude to judgment that usually begins a book review, and just get right to it: Karan Mahajan’s second novel, “The Association of Small Bombs,” is wonderful. It is smart, devastating, unpredictable and enviably adept in its handling of tragedy and its fallout. If you enjoy novels that happily disrupt traditional narratives — about grief, death, violence, politics — I suggest you go out and buy this one. Post haste.
Holiday book gift guide
Probably not. You may not understand it even if you have read the previous one. But that won’t stop you from getting a total kick out of it. After all, how can you not catch a silly buzz from off-the-wall scenes featuring lizard-headed musketeers, stun-gun wielding cockney banshees and a politically correct “beefeater-bobcat guy” who uses a “spork as a walking stick”?
. . . those who love deconstructing the supernatural literary references in series like "True Detective" and "Lost" will find much to savor in "Crooked," which also carries an important message we should all heed as our presidential candidates hit the campaign trail: "If the old gods rise, it will represent a significant realignment of the electoral landscape."
“The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey,” is goofy and often self-indulgent, but it is also charming, big-hearted, impassioned, and a lot of fun to read. The trek itself is awe-inspiring. The Buck brothers had to contend with sand storms, broken wheels, the wreckage of their “Trail Pup” (a supporting vehicle hitched to the main wagon), runaway mules, heat, dust, grease, grit, and grime. The bickering brothers — Rinker, a worrywart professional, and Nick, a devil-may-care jack of all trades — also had to deal with each other.
The book is an obsessive exploration of what makes hearts flutter and break across the globe, but most importantly, it dissects those ideas through the lens of a right-and-left swiping society. And as a result, Ansari’s final product doesn’t only feel complete—it’s hilariously executed, even without his unmistakable high-register voice belting the punchlines. At 250 pages, Modern Romance is a lean, pithy read that’s perfect to reach the tech-obsessed generation it explores.
“Nabokov in America” is rewarding on all counts, as biography, as photo album (there are many pictures of people, Western landscapes and motels) and as appreciative criticism. Not least, Roper even avoids the arch style so often adopted by critics faintly trying to emulate their inimitable subject.
Blume has never been particularly interested in language or plot. She has her eye on people, and her work resonates because she uses clean, accessible prose to sketch characters who are convincingly conflicted. Her good girls tell lies, and shy, vulnerable guys can cheat. Rarely do they intend the pain they cause.