Heller McAlpin is a New York-based critic who reviews books regularly for NPR.org, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.
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October 4, 2015 Patti Smith's new memoir is a dreamy, elegiac recollection of loved ones gone too soon, energized by her interests and travels. It jumps in time, from her husband's death in 1994 to Hurricane Sandy.
September 14, 2015 Critic Heller McAlpin calls Valeria Luiselli's novel a "philosophical funhouse" that melds the story of a charming auctioneer with meditations on the value of objects and the power of story.
September 8, 2015 Jesse Eisenberg specializes in playing (and writing about) jittery, antisocial nerds. Critic Heller McAlpin says the wonder is the empathy he brings to the sad sacks in his new story collection.
August 18, 2015 Stephanie Clifford's debut novel, about the desperate social strivings of a young woman in Manhattan, has its roots in the tragic, old-money fascinations of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth.
August 5, 2015 Jeff Bartsch's new novel is about a brainy couple who, after meeting at a 1960s spelling bee, conduct their troubled love affair through secret clues in the crosswords they compose for newspapers.
July 14, 2015 Patricia Marx's comic memoir chronicles her four-month attempt to boost her brainpower. Critic Heller McAlpin says anyone clever enough to have written this book shouldn't worry about her brain.
June 17, 2015 Professional Scrabble fan John D. Williams' new memoir is chock full of interesting tidbits (like lists of important words with Q, X and J) but gets bogged down in tedious biographical detail.
June 10, 2015 In The Stranger, Albert Camus' antihero Meursault famously killed a nameless Arab; Algerian writer Kamel Daoud's new novel reworks Camus from the point of view of the murdered man's brother.
June 9, 2015 The aging characters in Kate Walbert's new novel are learning to go with the flow as waters rise and life takes strange turns. Critic Heller McAlpin praises Walbert's ability to capture women's lives.
June 2, 2015 Fredrik Sjöberg's wry memoir celebrates the beauty of limitations, tiny wonders and intense focus; in Sjöberg's case, a focus on the hoverflies he studies on his home island of Runmarö in Sweden.
May 13, 2015 Lucas Mann's new memoir pieces together family memories to create a portrait of his heroin-addicted older brother, who died of an overdose. Critic Heller McAlpin calls it difficult but necessary.
May 4, 2015 Eliza Kennedy's snappy new novel follows Lily Wilder, a high-powered litigator conflicted about her upcoming wedding because she's having too much fun with sex, booze and work to settle down.
April 28, 2015 Readers eager to catch up with the Iowa farming family Jane Smiley introduced in Some Luck will enjoy the latest installment, which follows the five children off the farm and into the postwar era.
April 8, 2015 New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris' new book is part life story, part grammar guide. Reviewer Heller McAlpin says the book is delightful, and Norris is a "stickler who can't resist schtick."
March 11, 2015 J.C. Hallman's audacious account of his engagement with the erotic writing of Nicholson Baker makes a splash, but critic Heller McAlpin says the book sometimes runs aground in self-indulgence.
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