RaveThe Boston GlobeOn its premise it’s an exciting idea: a classic American tale with the script flipped starring a woman as the leading man ... There’s always a test involved when a stunt of this kind is pulled: will it hold up on its face as a compelling story? ... The results in North’s tale are varied and breathe new life into the Western format. Fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale are in for a stellar ride where gender roles, sexuality, agency, and self discovery come together, making North’s story as experimental and novel as it is classic ... North renders a dazzling landscape, punctuated by a musicality that lulls you like a folk song ... there are moments of thrilling insight ... North’s rendering of race is less sure-footed ... Race, class, and gender are all on Ada’s mind, but the power structures where those things intersect occasionally get lost. This time the dry earth was hard fought by women, yes, and women trying to rewrite history on their terms. But the land was still claimed by Whiteness ... In the end, though, the novel is breathtaking in its recalibration of gender roles. The challenge is to imagine a world where categories, expectations, and conventions of American life collapse enough to birth real change.
Mauro Javier Cárdenas
RaveChicago Review of BooksThis bombardment of multiple layers of thought and emotion is exactly what it feels like to read Aphasia by Mauro Javier Cárdenas ... The novel is formally daunting when you first get going with it. I’ll admit it takes a second to realize you are in fact reading the rhizomatic architecture of thought itself. Once you get going, though, it’s a rollercoaster of a run ... The light speed at which this book careens forward can make it difficult to see where the narrator is taking us, but it’s a worthy journey and universal themes emerge ... It’s the as it’s happening narration style that makes Cárdenas’s new work so innovative and exciting to read. It takes one of the oldest adages about the novel and spins it anew: novels help us understand what it’s like to be inside someone’s head.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeThe writer goes to great lengths in the book to demarcate herself from the Duchess. Goldblatt is an alter ego, someone onto whom she can project her pain and have it come back in the form of jokes. An obvious model is Dorothy Parker, but in a way the writer’s creative nimbleness and insistence on anonymity brings to mind someone more like Lee Israel. (The reviewer would like to say: I would hope the Duchess takes this as a complement and not a slight, Your Grace.) ... It’s loving the bizarre and cherishing the weird that Goldblatt does best. And it’s why so many people trust her to tell them how to live, how to treat themselves with more compassion, how to treat each other better, too.
RaveThe Boston GlobeKing deftly crafts a young woman aching to reach a personal Nirvana ... Death permeates the book, it looms above every character’s outline, and King skillfully colors each of them in a different hue ... In Casey, King has created a woman on the cusp of personal fulfillment and strong enough to stand on her own, someone akin to Sally Rooney’s Frances in Conversations with Friends—both writers home in meticulously on female personal development mediated by capitalism, art, sexual relationships vs. romance, and friendship ... King’s novel is a defense of writing, sure; her character finds her voice in the end and brings her novel to completion, and finally sells it. But King aims for something higher than that. The novel is a meditation on trying itself: to stay alive, to love, to care. That point feels so fresh, so powerfully diametrically opposed to the readily available cynicism we’ve been feasting on
RaveThe Chicago Review of Books... my expectations were properly shattered ... Christle’s piece is a gorgeous, meditative account of crying in all its forms, both individual and collective ... Christle probes at the edges of what is acceptable in our world ... Formally, the book is simple, quiet, but complex. The work progresses in a series of short vignettes—singular stories, but also forming a whole. Often Christle will shift from the individual to the collective from one paragraph to the next, widening or narrowing the aperture of her focus to encapsulate the entire cosmos, or hone in on a personal memory ... The most profound are the moments she speaks directly about herself ... But perhaps it’s her formal structure that is the most compelling. Strung together like a little strand of pearls, each piece functions as its own little emotional event, but as a whole they’re all the same. Much like how every time you cry it’s for a different reason, but the feeling of being on the precipice of tears never changes. Formally, Christle has achieved just that: an intense and moving catalog of tears, of stanzas ... [Christle] has made the amorphous take shape, woven the personal into the analytical, borne witness to something we choose to shrug off ... Bearing witness to both the physicality and emotionality of crying, Christle’s sermon is analytical, elegiac. A watercolor painting. I’m reminded of Mary Poppins’ chalk illustrations, washed away by rain. The colors cohering into something altogether new, sadder, full of sorrow.