RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe New Zealand poet and essayist Ashleigh Young writes many sly ars poeticas in her collection Can You Tolerate This?, a lovely, strange and profound debut that spins metaphors of its own creation and the segmented identity of the essayist, that self-regarding self ... Despite this collection’s interest in symbolism, it is also a catalog of immediate memories, arranged like snapshots in a photo album ... When Young leans on this ability to render the uncanny facets of her life, Can You Tolerate This? is an essay collection unlike any I’ve read. Reflections on the love and resentment she felt for a childhood pet and the affections shared between patient and chiropractor read like the mysterious short fiction of Robert Walser and Lydia Davis, resonating ambiguously in the reader’s mind long after they are over: morality tales with no moral ... Young’s greatest skills are subtlety and silence, relating truths through allegory and meaningful detail, so her missteps often come when she reaches too far for insight. A moving essay on her sister-in-law’s suicide is hampered by mundane musings on death and grief ... Young is often brilliant on the subject of the female body, but she is better at impressions than explanations ... That may be Young’s accomplishment in Can You Tolerate This?: connecting what are so often sneered at as \'women’s issues\' to the true, universal mysteries of human existence.
MixedThe Los Angeles Review of BooksMarzano-Lesnevich has a wealth of the horrifying, fascinating subject matter that makes for an addictive nonfiction read, and she is smart enough to know it. She gives the people what they want, describing in novelistic detail the semen stains on the murder victim’s shirt and her grandfather taking out his false teeth before he abused her … Like most works of creative nonfiction, The Fact of a Body is obsessed with the dual constraints of truthfulness and artfulness: it becomes, essentially, a compulsive meta-account about resisting the delectable temptation to make things up … Memoirists always run the risk of overwriting, manufacturing connections, grasping at cause and effect, and this weakness permeates both halves of Marzano-Lesnevich’s project … Marzano-Lesnevich, in her performance of hybridity — ‘A Murder and a Memoir’ — is only doing what the best memoirists do: creating a book of fact and body, and speaking, in all their discord, as mother, father, and child.