RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewDespite initial reluctance, Judith quickly succumbs to Howard’s emotional and sexual manipulations; the details of her erotic compliance are breathtaking. This is not unusual territory for Merkin, a literary critic and novelist known for her revealing personal essays, which have chronicled her sexual fixation on spanking as well as her struggles with depression...But, dear reader, how do you feel about interruptions? Would it bother you if in the thick of this steamy story of sexual obsession, the narrator butts in to solicit your opinion, discuss a plot decision or opine on some bit of literary trivia? If so, consider yourself forewarned. There are five chapters, each titled \'Digression\' and numbered one through five, devoted to doing just this, which may challenge your staying power ... our narrator is as skillful an orchestrator of emotion as Howard himself ... here’s the shocker: Thanks to Merkin’s literary legerdemain and stylish prose, her ruminative digressions — about memory, subjectivity and the interplay between reality and fiction — contribute as much to the book’s artistic, emotional and intellectual payoff as her story does. There is delight in each intrusion, of the sort that I experience on a leisurely Sunday morning when I’m able to wake up only to fall back to sleep again, taking pleasure in crossing the boundary of consciousness ... an arresting novel that explores the alchemy of contradictions that exist in all great works of literature. Observant and witty, Merkin makes each sentence pack a provocative wallop. So, come for the promise of a compulsively readable novel — \'Obsession makes for good copy,\' the narrator tells us — and stay for a fascinating lesson on the making of art.