Feature

Novel of the week

The Soul Thief by Charles Baxter

The Soul Thief by Charles Baxter (Pantheon, $20)

Charles Baxter’s slim new novel is “so craftily constructed” that readers should savor it twice, said Maureen Corrigan in The Washington Post. It has profound thoughts to share about how time and circumstance alter identity. But its “delicious” surface intrigue arrives courtesy of an enigmatic 1970s grad student—named Jerome Coolberg—who seems to find sick pleasure in appropriating the narrator’s life and personal history. We come to that story some 30 years later, long after the narrator has put behind him a treacherous love triangle and a resulting breakdown, said James Marcus in the Los Angeles Times. Coolberg, who has become an L.A.-based radio host, asks his erstwhile pawn to join him on air, and Baxter handles the resulting encounter “with satirical relish.” Because the author of The Feast of Love manages everything to that point so masterfully, “it saddens me to report that the climax is a hackneyed bit of metafictional whimsy.” But The Soul Thief remains a rewarding read despite that “tacked on” twist, said Art Winslow in the Chicago Tribune. “Scene by scene and sentence by sentence,” it “sparkles with a tender energy and a tongue-in-cheekiness” that can’t be erased by one false move.

Recommended

10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2021
Scott Morrison.
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2021

CIA reportedly warned military about civilian presence just seconds before missile hit in Kabul
Site of U.S. missile strike in Kabul.
afghanistan

CIA reportedly warned military about civilian presence just seconds before missile hit in Kabul

France's anger at U.S., U.K., Australia over defense deal may not die down quickly
Emmanuel Macron.
this isn't over

France's anger at U.S., U.K., Australia over defense deal may not die down quickly

'No reason' for optimism that Taliban's ban on girls' education will end, human rights analyst warns
Girls' classroom in Afghanistan.
backtracking

'No reason' for optimism that Taliban's ban on girls' education will end, human rights analyst warns

Most Popular

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?
Elizabeth Holmes and James Mattis.
Samuel Goldman

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?

How Newsom ran away with the recall
Gavin Newsom.
Picture of David FarisDavid Faris

How Newsom ran away with the recall

Emmys host Cedric the Entertainer hoping 'not to get canceled'
Leon Bennett/Getty Images
'what have I done in the last three months'

Emmys host Cedric the Entertainer hoping 'not to get canceled'