MixedThe Washington Independent Review of BooksRidker’s debut is funny. The novel’s is a sort of literary humor that takes aim at the inane preoccupations of the American petty bourgeois: affairs, mortgages, social status, the relative rank of the private university to which your children have been admitted (or not), as well as the particulars of their lives once they are enrolled ... why does The Altruists feel like an otherwise well-crafted novel in search of a hook worth the reader’s time? ... can feel at times so thin, even as it truthfully reconstructs a society we would rather not recognize. It is a humorous elegy to myriad aspects of a dying life in which tenured professors are perennial adjuncts; where private-school-educated youths flee their suburban enclaves and move to the city ... The Altruists is accurate in this sense, but hardly prescient. Where does it all leave a novel that could have been written in 2001?
RaveThe MillionsShe aims to stimulate the head, not the heart, but her blistering sense of humor, rivaled today only by Paul Beatty and Nell Zink, keeps the stories earthbound ... The stories themselves aren’t bitter but rather take bitterness as their subject matter. In DeWitt’s world, there are Mozarts, Salieris, and the many suits whose livelihoods depend on them. No one is spared, the suits least of all. It’s safe to say that the stories in Some Trick have their rough edges. They are the farthest thing from the model writers’ workshop story, \'plotless and sparkling with epiphanic dew,\' to borrow a phrase from Michael Chabon. But for sheer brilliance and humor, Some Trick delivers like nothing else, simply because DeWitt writes like no one else.
PositiveThe MillionsEach chapter is dedicated to a single character who, in most cases, will not be the primary focus again. This structural gambit unfortunately results in a compartmentalized narrative. All 13 protagonists get their own chapter, with only one or two repeats. And because the chapters are structured like character sketches, every 15 or 20 pages the reader must reset and make mental space for a new set of personality quirks and childhood memories. As a result, much of the novel is given over to flashbacks and exposition. Each chapter demands the escape velocity of a short story ... All of her characters are rendered with depth, portrayed with amusement and affection. Frumkin’s witty, third-person voice is as comfortable with the drug-dealing Reggie Marshall as it is his Melville scholar wife, Tasha ... It is a fundamentally comic novel (and a very funny one at that).