Heller McAlpin

Heller McAlpin appears in the following:

'Empathy Exams' Is A Virtuosic Manifesto Of Human Pain

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Leslie Jamison's new book of essays, The Empathy Exams, combines the intellectual and the emotional to explore the humanizing effect of empathy. Heller McAlpin calls it a "soaring performance."


Comedian Ages With Humor — And Effort

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In her new book of essays, I See You Made an Effort, comedian Annabelle Gurwitch muses on middle-aged life. Critic Heller McAlpin says that the book, infused throughout with "sharp wit," is hilarious.


'One More Thing' Has A Few Too Many Things, But It's Still Funny

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Office writer B.J. Novak's new story collection covers everything from carrot cake to artificial intelligence. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says the book has a few too many things packed into it, but overall, the collection is "wildly promising."


Anna Quindlen Is (Still) The Voice Of Her Generation

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quindlen's novel Still Life with Bread Crumbs is predictably comforting and readable, even as it details the challenges of a modern middle-aged woman: the fallout of divorce, a career on the wane, and the endless financial and emotional support demanded by her family.


Music And Chemistry Are An Explosive Combination In 'Orfeo'

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Richard Powers' new novel follows an avant-garde composer who has sacrificed everything in his pursuit of transcendent music — and who gets into trouble when he attempts to combine his twin obsessions of music and chemistry. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says Powers hits a high note with Orfeo.


E.L. Doctorow's New Novel 'Puzzling And Ultimately Disappointing'

Friday, January 17, 2014

E.L. Doctorow's new novel Andrew's Brain takes the reader deep into the mind of a cognitive scientist who's struggling with both scientific questions and personal tragedy. Critic Heller McAlpin says the book, which takes the form of Andrew's monologue to a doctor, is "a real head-scratcher."


'Boy Detective' Walks Down Memory Lane, But Doesn't Get Anywhere

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Loosely structured as a stroll through New York City, Roger Rosenblatt's memoir includes playful, endearing anecdotes from his childhood in Gramercy Park. But critic Heller McAlpin notes that his rambling riffs and excruciatingly slow pace make it a difficult read.


An Exhaustive Survey From Columbus To Nemesis In 'Roth Unbound'

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Claudia Roth Pierpont's new Roth Unbound looks at themes in the work of Philip Roth (no relation). All the themes, in every book by the famously prolific writer. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says it's "a dazzling if sometimes exhausting journey" that dutifully addresses Roth's foibles as well as his talent.


Suburban Islands Of Regret, More Than 'Nine Inches' Apart

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tom Perrotta has been called "the Steinbeck of suburbia" for his depictions of self-sabotaging adolescents and foolish middle-class adults. His new book — his first short-story collection in 19 years — is full of strong but repetitive stories, sad tales of failures earnestly yearning to do better.


Last Words: An Author's Rhymed Farewell

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

While Dr. Seuss, David Rakoff was not, the author, it's clear, cared a whole awful lot. This book — his last — is a rhymed, pensive story: A triumph, says Heller McAlpin, in all its sly glory.


City, Comedy And Calamity In Cathleen Schine's New Novel

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Cathleen Schine's new novel follows a young boy and his older half-sister, making a life for themselves in Greenwich Village. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says Fin & Lady is entertaining and moving.


A Family's Secrets And Sorrows Surface In 'Heatwave'

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Maggie O'Farrell's new novel, Instructions for a Heatwave, follows a troubled Irish Catholic family in London over the course of four scorching July days in 1976. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says Heatwave is a beautiful book about "the importance of forgiving those you love."


Food For Thought In Shriver's 'Big Brother'

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Lionel Shriver has never shied away from contentious topics. Her latest novel, Big Brother, tackles the hot-button issue of obesity as doll-maker Pandora deals with her brother — washed-up jazz pianist Edison — and his massive weight gain.


Farm Team Saga 'Class A' Hits It Out Of The Park

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Lucas Mann's Class A combines baseball and sociology in this chronicle of a farm team from a fading Iowa factory town. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says Mann "uses the full tool kit of literary nonfiction" in a book that "encompasses nostalgia, hope and failure."


One Of Ireland's Greatest Writers Looks Back On Eight Decades

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Irish novelist Edna O'Brien looks back on eight tumultuous decades in a new memoir, Country Girl. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says the book is "a generous gift to readers" but too circumspect about O'Brien's personal life — which included encounters with Samuel Beckett, Richard Burton and Paul McCartney.


Owls, Yes, But Also Kookaburras And Dentists In Sedaris' Latest

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

David Sedaris' latest essay collection, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls, mixes his trademark quirky observations with less successful fictional asides in which he takes on the voices of assorted ultraconservative bad guys.


Minks, Perfume And Beastly Beauty In 'Shocked'

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Patricia Volk's new memoir, Shocked, chronicles her complex relationship with her beautiful, exacting mother. She finds a useful contrast to her mother's stifled life in a memoir by avant-garde designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Reviewer Heller McAlpin calls the book a "stylish coming-of-age tale."


Learning 'Life' Lessons With McCorkle's Seniors

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Amid a literary landscape rife with metafictional and postmodern high jinks, Jill McCorkle has dared to write a heartwarmer set largely in a retirement home. Her Life After Life celebrates late-life epiphanies and old-fashioned kindness.


Can This Hypercomplex 'Leopard' Change Its Spots?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kristopher Jansma's hyper-inventive debut novel The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards explores the blurred boundary between truth and lies in a writer's life. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says the book "reaches a dizzying complexity that borders on the tiresome."


A New Focus On An Old Image In 'Mary Coin'

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Marisa Silver's new novel, Mary Coin, is a fictionalized look at a famous Depression-era photograph: Dorothea Lange's iconic "Migrant Mother." Reviewer Heller McAlpin says Silver skilfully weaves together different eras and narratives, creating "quietly heroic yet very human characters."