PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewAside from the requisite cultural misunderstandings, skin rashes and homicidal drivers, Wheelan wisely focuses his book on the way the family navigates meltdowns, hurt feelings and all the high-stakes transactions of life on the go. I loved this family. Wheelan is a lucid and likable storyteller, and his antic family dialogues are spot-on, but he is not — and does not pretend to be — a poet of place ... We Came, We Saw, We Left tells an upbeat story. What I liked best about the book was watching two people parent their teenagers well. The Wheelans leaven respectful negotiating with some appropriate sarcasm.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"There are books with front doors, through which the reader walks right in, and there are books with side doors. Side door books take more interpretive work, but yield special pleasures. Jamie Quatro’s fantastic new novel, Fire Sermon, is a side door book ... The mores of the Ellmanns’ lives are exceedingly conventional, as are many of the novel’s touchstones — weddings, baptisms, the death of pets. But the way this slim book condenses these happenings in the context of the affair gives them poetry ... The sentences burn with desire and disquiet. The novel is generously condensed, ardently focused, its mechanisms poetic, not expository. In fact, although it is fiction, Fire Sermon reminds me most of confessional poetry, the aim of which is uncompromising honesty and self-exposure.\
PositiveThe GuardianFrida is in thrall to both the Land and to its people, while at first Cal skulks behind her, the recalcitrant cowboy, carefully guarding his sensual wife. He is unreasonably antagonistic toward his hosts, but we believe in his jealous love … Whereas the first half of California supplies evocative scenes and sentences, such as a haunting moment of confrontation with a starving coyote, attention to the visceral quality of life in this particular future diminishes as the book becomes concerned with ins and outs of a wider conspiracy and authorially dangled secrets. Flashes of genuine narrative tension that pull the reader forward by the shirtfront are interrupted by moments of retrospection or unhurried conversation that seem unlikely or disappointingly timed. Still, a strong whiff of Nineteen Eighty-Four in the final section lends the novel a powerful and creepy finish.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleHenry Shackelford is McBride's protagonist, a faux-naif square in the tradition of Huckleberry Finn … The portrait of ‘the real’ John Brown is indelible...John Brown was a thunderously single-minded abolitionist, a visionary and a one-man show, and throughout The Good Lord Bird, one can see why McBride admires him. We witness Brown's suicidal blindness, his long-windedness and his radiance … The Good Lord Bird doesn't stand on ceremony, and McBride never delivers the sanctimonious speeches that could appliance such a tale