RaveThe New Statesman (UK)O’Sullivan travels the world collecting fascinating stories of culture-bound syndromes, which she relays with nuance and sensitivity ... O’Sullivan writes with a refreshing humility; unlike some doctor- authors, she doesn’t paint herself as a miracle-worker.
MixedThe New StatesmanWiener is a keen social observer and scene-setter. She has an eye for telling details about people and places, and is especially attuned to the hypocrisies of hubristic young men ... She elegantly captures the vertigo of spending most of her waking hours online ... Wiener is also a witty and stylish writer ... She can distil an interaction or even a whole culture into a quotable line or two...But these observations sometimes substitute for deeper analysis; Wiener drops tantalising morsels and immediately moves on ... As a memoirist, Wiener maintains a cool distance from the reader. Her account of discovering a boyfriend’s affair – surely a traumatic, or at the very least emotional, event – is curiously dispassionate ... Wiener never names the tech companies she works for or the apps she uses, instead giving them creative epithets...At first, I found this decision provocative and funny; by the 300th page, it was tiresome and occasionally confusing. (Maybe everyone in San Francisco knows the location of Google’s headquarters, but I had to look it up) ... I sometimes felt like I was reading a series of well-written in-jokes I didn’t quite get ... I didn’t want to be learning, two-thirds of the way through the book, that she meets many people with similar-looking eyeglasses. I didn’t want to still be guessing, on page 280, what the \'highly litigious Seattle-based conglomerate\' is. It’s pleasant, for a while, to coast along on the charm of Wiener’s prose – but by the end, her charm had begun to cloy.
PositiveThe New Statesman (UK)These days, Jamison is sober, married and successful ...The wide-ranging essays of – circling themes of intimacy and obsession – show how fertile stability can be ... [Jamison\'s] language is typically lush ...Jamison picks excellent topics for her reported pieces ... Until this book, I preferred Jamison’s journalistic writing to her personal essays ... I find her more plausible and interesting here, at the Disney Store, anxiously looking for a toy that will win over her stepdaughter; in Las Vegas, sticking to mocktails and feeling deprived...on the toilet, turning in an edit and signing off, \'PS I am in labour.\' The minor dramas of her sober, settled life are more compelling than her self-cutting or her eating disorder ... It is usually considered a weakness for a collection to include essays that have already appeared in magazines. But here, those stories, with their revisions and addendums, feel like proof of concept: the writer’s work is never done.
PositiveNew StatesmanMonroe chronicles her lifelong obsession with crime...without letting herself off the hook. Her book serves, in part, as a reminder that – as trendy as crime narratives have become, as much as the storytelling has evolved – there is still something sordid about consuming human tragedies ... Part of what I liked about this book is that Monroe resists the need to sweep all of her material into a single, tidy narrative. Her prose – consistently lyrical and probing – does a lot of the work towards making it feel cohesive. All four stories are fascinating ... In allowing for messiness – narrative as well as moral – her book is a corrective to the genre it interrogates.