Welcome back to the Critical Hit Awards for book reviews. This is a round-up, a recommended reading list, and—why not?—a terribly prestigious and coveted prize. Nominate your favorite review of the month by tweeting it at @electriclit with the hashtag #criticalhit or cast your vote in the comments section below.
Going negative is not just a pickup strategy or a blueprint for a presidential campaign. It’s also a great approach for book reviews. Two of our winners this month are frightfully and hilariously negative. Which makes sense, in a realm as conflicted and contentious as the literary arts. Let’s hope the negative ink leads to positive change.
Thanks to @shiprachauhan for nominating a book review this month!
The Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal
Reviewed by Jennifer B. McDonald in The New York Times Book Review
There’s no way McDonald wrote this review sitting down. You can almost see her pacing the floor and waving her arms in the air as she knocks holes in John D’Agata’s belief that essays have no obligation to be factual. Her language is sensibly exasperated and broadly entertaining.
All Cheeses Great and Small: a Life Less Blurry by Alex James
Reviewed by Marina Hyde in The Guardian
From its arch invocation of Winston Churchill’s memoirs to its wholesale invention of a media-saturated Amazonian tribe, this review of an ex-rock star’s disquisition on cheese-making is facetious, venomous, and relentless—in other words, suitably British.
Zona by Geoff Dyer
Reviewed by Buzz Poole in The Millions
Moviegoing is often a passive or critical activity. But Geoff Dyer turns it into a way to accumulate memories and observations. Buzz Poole absorbs Dyer’s process with wide eyes.
Read a good review lately? Nominate it for a Critical Hit Award by tweeting it at @electriclit with the hashtag #criticalhit or cast your vote in the comments section below.
– Brian Hurley is over here.