NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: BookMarks.
Our quintet of quality reviews this week includes Jennifer Szalai on Ron DeSantis’ How to Be Free, Alex Preston on Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood, Brian Dillon on Nona Fernández’s Voyager, Ron Charles on Donal Ryan’s The Queen of Dirt Island, and Katherine Dykstra on Cristina Rivera Garza’s Liliana’s Invincible Summer.
“As governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis has been casting himself as a Trump-like pugilist. But the overall sense you get from reading his new memoir is that of the mechanical try-hard—someone who has expended a lot of effort studying which way the wind is blowing in the Republican Party and is learning how to comport himself accordingly … all the culture war Mad Libs can’t distract from the dull coldness at this book’s core … Even the title, with its awkward feint at boldness while clinging to the safety of cliché, suggests the anxiety of an ambitious politician who really, really wants to run for president in 2024 and knows he needs the grievance vote, but is also trying his best to tiptoe around the Trump dragon … For the most part, The Courage to Be Free is courageously free of anything that resembles charisma, or a discernible sense of humor. While his first book was weird and esoteric enough to have obviously been written by a human, this one reads like a politician’s memoir churned out by ChatGPT.”
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