A damnably readable, streamlined, yet deeply researched work. Skipping the ancestors and aftermath of conventional biography, Max gives us the man, his work, and his times-the niceties of which (so complicated, so exquisitely intertwined) Max articulates with, well, Wallace-like lucidity and wit. Above all this is the story of a touching young man who insisted on being something better than simply the smartest person in the room.
The funniest novel you've never read. . . . Afternoon Men is a revelation to sophisticated readers of every stripe, but especially to a certain kind of artist manqu on the brink of discovering that life is a more difficult business than he ever had reason to expect. . . . The subject matter is 'relatable,' as my students like to say. Better still, though, is what you can learn about the craft of writing from this marvelous book. . . . Indeed, if you're looking for a funny, nonportentous Hemingway, then the early Powell is your man.