Review by New York Times Review
IMPEACHMENT: A Citizen's Guide, by Cass R. Sunstein. (Harvard University, paper, $7.95.) True to its subtitle, Sunstein's short book is a guide to everything you need to know about impeachment. This topic has taken on new urgency, though Sunstein does not take up the Trump presidency directly. THE TEMPTATION OF FORGIVENESS, by Donna Leon. (Atlantic Monthly, $26.) Commissario Guido Brunetti embarks on another atmospheric Venetian criminal investigation, this time coming to the aid of a woman whose husband has been attacked on one of the city's stone bridges. A TOKYO ROMANCE: A Memoir, by lan Buruma. (Penguin Press, $26.) The editor of The New York Review of Books recaptures his youthful experiences in the avant-garde film and theater world of the postwar city. "I always felt drawn to outsiders," Buruma writes. "Hovering on the fringes was where I liked to be." A LONG WAY FROM HOME, by Peter Carey. (Knopf, $26.95.) This latest novel from the author of "True History of the Kelly Gang" and "Oscar and Lucinda" follows a married couple and their bachelor neighbor on a bumptious 10,000-mile auto race in 1950s Australia. MY FATHER'S WAKE: How the Irish Teach Us How to Live, Love and Die, by Kevin Toolis. (Da Capo, $26.) The hospital death of Toolis's brother, followed by his father's death in small-town Ireland, led him to examine death rituals around the world. The Irish wake, he says, is "the best guide to life you could ever have." THE NEIGHBORHOOD, by Mario Vargas Llosa. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Written telenova-style, with chapters alternating among various characters, Vargas Llosa's 20 th novel is an edgy send-up of life in Peru before the downfall of Alberto Fujimori. Wealthy friends find themselves in a difficult situation when one is blackmailed by a tabloid editor and the other, a lawyer, tries to help. VICTORIANS UNDONE: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum, by Kathryn Hughes. (HarperCollins, $29.95.) Hughes's detailed account of five notable 19th-century body parts topples great figures from their pedestals. Made rather than given, these bodies tell an engrossing story about the culture that fashioned them. THE WHICH WAY TREE, by Elizabeth Crook. (Little, Brown, $26.) Crook's western-inflected novel follows a pair of siblings on their hunt for the wild panther that upended their lives. JULIÁN IS A MERMAID, by Jessica Love. (Candlewick, $16.99; ages 4 to 8.) This picture book is full of surprises and delights as it tells the story of a little boy who, dazzled by the sight of mermaids on a subway train, goes home to play dress up - and later attends the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [August 30, 2019]
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Llosa's lively novel belongs in the pantheon of guilty pleasures by Nobel winners. Set in the waning years of Alberto Fujimori's Peru, a time of "kidnappings, the curfew, blackouts, the whole nightmare," the novel is structured as a breezy thriller but takes as its real subject the crimes and corruption of the Fujimori regime and its enforcer, the mysterious "Doctor." It begins with Enrique Cárdenes, a wealthy engineer, receiving a visit from Rolando Garro, editor of the tabloid Exposed, regarding a salacious series of photographs of Enrique that have fallen into his possession and could be conveniently forgotten if Enrique chooses to invest in the yellow press. Outraged, Enrique violently rejects Rolando's overture. When the photos are published and Enrique appears on the cover "naked from head to toe," the scandal kills his reputation. When Garro turns up dead a few days later, Enrique is the prime suspect. While for most of the novel the prose is straightforward and in the manner of a page-turner, toward the end, Llosa includes an extended fugue of his trademark interweaved dialogue to great effect. Reminiscent of Pynchon's Inherent Vice in its use of genre fiction for higher purposes, this is an audacious and skillful novel. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
After A Discreet Hero (2015), Vargas Llosa stays on familiar Peruvian turf in this novel of intrigue and murder. A sleazy tabloid publisher is blackmailing Enrique Cardenas, a successful and influential mining engineer, with some compromising photos taken during an orgy with prostitutes. The publisher is brutally murdered, and Cardenas and another innocent victim, a senile former entertainer, are the suspects. The slain editor's successor daringly reveals that the assassination was discharged under the orders of the Doctor, the henchman of then president Alberto Fujimori (whom Vargas Llosa ran against in 1990), which brings about the downfall of the regime. In the meantime, Cardenas's wife is having an affair with his attorney's wife. The narration is fairly straightforward until Chapter 20, when Vargas Llosa indulges in one of his characteristic and long-lived techniques: the overlapping and interweaving of narrations across time. Verdict This new work from the Nobel Prize winner is a fast-paced and well-executed translation of his 2016 Cinco esquinas, literally Five Corners, a more accurate and certainly appropriate title since it pinpoints where the crucial actions transpire. A murder mystery with political overtones and the underlying power of the press, exquisitely wrought. [See Prepub Alert, 8/28/17.]-Lawrence Olszewski, North Central State Coll., Mansfield, OH © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Sex, money, scandal, and power dance through this uneven tale of gossip and politics among the high-enders and media lowlifes of Lima, Peru.The Nobel Prize-winning author opens with two wealthy women, Marisa and Chabela, discovering the amorous benefits of their friendship. Marisa's industrialist husband, Enrique, faces blackmail in the next chapter when some nasty photos from a drunken orgy fall into the hands of a scandal-sheet editor named Garro. Enrique's problems escalate because he refuses to pay up and the photos appear in print. His wife's anger eventually subsides enough to reward him with a three-way with her and Chabela. Meanwhile side stories develop involving Garro's top reporter, Julieta, aka Shorty, and an old man named Juan whose livelihood was destroyed by Garro's media attacks. Enrique will come under suspicion when Garro is found brutally murdered; he spends a brief nightmarish time in jail. But it is Shorty who leads the book to what is often for Vargas Llosa (The Discreet Hero, 2015, etc.) the inevitable political freight when she is summoned to a session with Vladimiro Montesinos, aka the Doctor, the actual powerful head of Peru's intelligence service in the 1990s and right hand of President Alberto Fujimoro. Vargas Llosa was politically active and even ran for the presidency of his native Peru, losing to Fujimoro. There may be elements of payback in this novel, although it comes latethe historical denouement occurred in 2000and seems superfluous given the known fates of the two officials. The story's strongest moments and characters revolve around the impoverished Barrios Altos neighborhood of Lima, especially Shorty and Juan and a few minor characters. By comparison, the lurid, telenovela lives of the wealthy supply only broad, unresolved ironies about classin more than one definitionand some cringe-inducing sex scenes.A colorful but confusing and ultimately disappointing work by a great writer. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.