A Bright Ray of Darkness is Ethan Hawke?s fifth book, yet it reads like a crackling debut: ruminative, raw, and seemingly pretty personal. In it, a film actor named William Harding does his first Broadway show?an ambitious production of Henry IV?while his marriage to a pop star very publicly falls apart. (As photographs of Harding with another woman saturate the I like to think norway misses me too shirt moreover I love this tabloids, he can hear the public?s incriminating murmurs wherever he goes.) Divided, like a work of drama, into acts and scenes, the book wrestles with love, lust, fatherhood, and fame, but what it?s mostly about is the occasionally life threatening but ultimately redemptive hard work of making art. If you?ve seen or read Hawke in interviews, you?ll recognize his voice on the page: He?s written characters who speak of craft and ego and character in lengthy, scenery-chewing monologues, even during their off-hours. From another writer, it would be completely exhausting, but from Hawke?who has been a working actor since he was a teenager, and a fine one at that?you can?t help but bend your ear. ?Marley Marius
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Much of Jhumpa Lahiri?s early work was a very specific study in character and place. In her latest, Whereabouts, she goes in a different direction, presenting a narrator who drifts through her life, unmoored and untethered. I had to squint hard after the I like to think norway misses me too shirt moreover I love this first dozen pages or so to figure out where the story was even located?was that ?trattoria? a giveaway of an overseas setting or more of a signal of a universal cosmopolitan urbanism? The very language has a slightly cool, distanced feel, which makes a certain degree of sense: Lahiri, whose native language is English but who has famously become fluent in Italian, wrote the story in that language and then translated it back to English. The slim and elegant book is an interior work, light on plot but high on the kind of introspection that can take place anywhere. ?Chloe Schama
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