7 Most Favorable Reviews in April 2022

  • May 3, 2022

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony last month.

7 Most Favorable Reviews in April 2022

Ever Green: Saving Big Forests to Save the Planet by John W. Reid and Thomas E. Lovejoy (W.W. Norton & Company). Reviewed by Christopher Lancette. “While much of the book focuses on practical solutions for conserving the great forests, Ever Green tantalizes readers with profound side trips, too. I found most fascinating the ‘Forests of Thought’ chapter, with its passages relating to how different cultures use unique vocabularies to describe the natural world. Many have words that depict the earth and its inhabitants as a family. And some Amazonian peoples ‘use the same word for green and blue — a single color hinting at a connection between the two overhead vaults, one of trees and the other of sky.’”

End of the World House: A Novel by Adrienne Celt (Simon & Schuster). Reviewed by Michael Maiello. “End of the World House is thoughtful, funny, provocative, and creative. That Celt is also a successful cartoonist brings not only wit to her work but also connection between the writer and her protagonist. While there’s a temptation to compare the book’s time-bending elements to pop-culture products like ‘Groundhog Day’ or the streaming series ‘Russian Doll,’ there is also in Celt’s never-ending museum an echo of the infinite library of Jorge Luis Borges, and in her ruined world where we can only do the best we can, of Samuel Beckett. The author has triumphed by rendering a personal tale against a backdrop of global significance.”

When I Sing, Mountains Dance: A Novel by Irene Solà; translated by Mara Faye Lethem (Graywolf Press). Reviewed by Mike Maggio. “As you might suspect, When I Sing, Mountains Dance is not a typical novel, nor does it read like one. At times, it is poetic and metaphorical; at other times, it reverberates like a magic-mushroom trip inspired by those chanterelles, the heroes of an entire chapter. And they’re not the only objects/characters to merit their own section. The book also boasts chapters called ‘Fear’ and ‘Poetry.’ And then there is ‘Crunch,’ whose visual presentation evolves into what you might call an exemplar of post-modernism. Yet post-modern the novel is not.”

Thin Places: A Natural History of Healing and Home by Kerri ní Dochartaigh (Milkweed Editions). Reviewed by Gretchen Lida. “The memoir’s evocative style is riveting, layering images of the natural places where the author finds solace with the urban spaces where she lives most of her life. The style is similar to Terese Marie Mailhot’s memoir, Heart Berries. Both books are page-turners that manage the delicate tightrope walk between poetry and prose. The second reason I wanted to read Thin Places was to better understand the Troubles and to see what lessons could be taken from it. As America strains at the seams of its division, I sought to know how ordinary people — living amid sometimes deadly strife — persevered, found community, and kept making art.”

Violets by Kyung-sook Shin; translated by Anton Hur (The Feminist Press). Reviewed by Alice Stephens. “A violet is a small flower that can grow anywhere and therefore is considered by some to be a weed. In the English dictionary, San notes that violet comes after violator and violence. Those three words become entwined in her mind, and in the wrenching climactic scene, she seeks to embody them. With this beautifully translated requiem to the unseen women who live in the shadow of rejection, erasure, and oppression, Kyung-sook Shin brings a powerful indictment of a society that sacrifices its citizens in the name of progress. It is also a sad commentary on South Korea that the novel’s depiction of female marginalization is as urgent and necessary as it was when Violets was originally published two decades ago.”

Lincoln and the Fight for Peace by John Avlon (Simon & Schuster). Reviewed by James A. Percoco. “Among other things, Avlon explores the fact that, while war yet raged, Lincoln was nevertheless looking for ways to broker a peace that would end both the fighting and the institution of slavery. This desire — and ability — to merge compassion with political acumen showed Lincoln to be a singular kind of leader. In his assessment of the man, the author provides a glimpse of how we might use Lincoln’s example to navigate our way out of our current crises of ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ For Lincoln, it was always about us. All of us.”

The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: A True Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies by Paul Fischer (Simon & Schuster). Reviewed by Bob Duffy. “From a broader perspective, Fischer’s narrative is a compelling saga of both familial and scientific struggle. Throughout, he shines a brilliant light on the succession of major players searching for the keys to motion-picture technology, mechanical as well as chemical, both stateside and abroad. The author offers fascinating coverage of, among other aspects, Edward Muybridge’s work with successive still images of human and equine locomotion, not to mention the gimmicky ‘magic lantern’ devices that preceded Edison’s and Le Prince’s nearly simultaneous breakthroughs.”

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