5 Most Popular Posts: January 2022
- February 2, 2022
We love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are January’s winners.
- Daniel de Visé’s review of The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard by Marc Eliot (Hachette Books). “If you’re a country fan, you know all about Merle, performer of 37 number-one hits and author of more bona fide country classics than maybe anyone else of the modern era…If you’re not a country fan, you probably know less about Merle and more about Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, two country greats who crossed over to real success in the pop marketplace. And they are great, but Merle had the complete package: a beautiful baritone voice, movie-star looks, a sterling backing band, and a depth of songwriting talent that maybe even Willie and Johnny couldn’t quite match because they didn’t live their songs the way Merle did.”
- Robert Allen Papinchak’s review of Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrik Backman (Atria Books). “How do you follow up a sensational international bestseller like A Man Called Ove? Fredrik Backman does it spectacularly with the entertaining conundrum Anxious People. As equally idiosyncratic and iconoclastic as his debut, it is an outrageously hilarious, flawless novel about ‘how a bank robber failed to rob a bank but instead managed to spark a hostage drama.’ It is the most bizarre heist story since Sidney Lumet’s ‘Dog Day Afternoon,’ with narrative nods to Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto and O. Henry’s ‘The Ransom of Red Chief.’”
- Lawrence de Maria’s review of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (Ballantine Books). “Project Hail Mary is not everyone’s cup of Tau. (That’s not a misprint; you’ll have to read the book — which I hope you do — to get the pun.) In fact, its author, Andy Weir, has many detractors who point out that his writing style leaves much to be desired, his humor is borderline juvenile, and he can be politically preachy. All of this is somewhat true, but it’s beside the point. As he proved in his breakout novel, The Martian, Weir can spin a yarn and make a reader think.”
- Randy Cepuch’s review of Falling: A Novel by T.J. Newman (Avid Reader Press). “When a book’s title is a simple seven-letter word suggesting an out-of-control experience and its cover art features an airplane pointing straight down, expect turbulence. If you read this one on a vacation that involves air travel, you may well decide to walk home. Falling is a terrifying tale of a single cross-country flight during which pilot Bill Hoffman faces an impossible choice. His wife and children will be killed back at home in L.A. if he doesn’t crash the JFK-bound plane with 149 souls aboard.”
- Sunil Dasgupta’s review of Boy Swallows Universe: A Novel by Trent Dalton (Harper). “This is Dalton’s debut novel, and he is a compelling storyteller with an exceptional voice. He depicts a heroin-addled Australia that we are not familiar with in the United States, a perch from where Australia looks like all gorgeous beaches and even more gorgeous beach bums. But Oz fought alongside the U.S. in Vietnam and welcomed a large number of refugees from war-torn Southeast Asia who brought with them networks that made the drug trade possible.”