I almost always enjoy sharp coming-of-age books, so this “pugnacious, snub-nosed paean to the highs and lows of juvenile delinquency” is right up my alley. And the fact that its protagonist is a stand-out selling point (I enjoy character-driven books, and Shone took a shine to Fagan’s characterization skills) of the novel definitely helps. I don’t recall ever coming across a review by Shone before, and his write-up is evenhanded and just funny enough.
If I could have a life do-over, archeologist would be one of the finalists (after astronaut, obviously) for career choice. I love reading and learning about ancient civilizations and unsolved mysteries. This is a book about scholars’ efforts to crack the “Linear B” syllabary discovered on Cretan stone tablets a century ago. Probably pretty dry reading if you’re not into that sort of thing, but the review is short enough that it’s worth a gander all the same.
I’ve never read any Rakoff, but I always enjoyed his appearances on This American Life. Novels in verse don’t tend to be my cup of tea, but Curley’s description intrigues me: “Rakoff throws both affection and grenades at his characters, salving and salting their wounds.” It’s not too often an author’s last book is his best (and I’m certainly not able to judge in this case), but Rakoff fans should look into this and decide for themselves.