PositiveNPRNow, you already know where this book is headed — if you haven\'t figured that out yet, take another gander at the title — and that sense of predestination isn\'t the only thing about this book that reminded me of a finely honed sitcom. The book isn\'t a pure comedy, exactly, but Bertino\'s plot points still land like punch lines, delivered with a brief setup before being shouldered aside to make way for the next one. Most characters are dressed with an eccentricity or two, thrust onto stage to speak a few quips and herded off to wait until they\'re called again. Bertino\'s Philadelphia brims with such quirk and coincidence, it begs for a studio audience — both for better and for worse ... This sprightly tone, while entertaining, doesn\'t serve the story quite as well when Bertino ventures into rougher waters ... Bertino has a knack for turning phrases, and she uses it to make otherwise mundane observations into jabs in the gut ... And while the story may feel as if it\'s told in punch lines, more often than not, those punch lines hit their mark.
RaveNPRJust about the whole collection, each story no more than a handful of pages, finds most of its characters defined by the extremity of their situations — or quirks, or insecurities — yet they deal with it all as a matter of course ... For the most part, though, Amelia Gray sounds like no one else. Her writing is by turns horrifying, funny, sexy and grotesque, but woe be to those who want to pin it down as horror, comedy, romance or fantasy. Sentence by sentence, these stories are simple, rarely complicated by rhetorical flourishes or formal experimentation, but the scenes they build can be deeply complex — and the emotions they summon often contradictory, too. And, at the beating heart of it all, Gray\'s on a quest to reclaim the body\'s rightful place in literature — the clumsy, bloody, inconvenient body, which so often gets left behind in high-minded drama ... By baring a bit of blood to the world, she reminds readers we\'re blood-bearing creatures after all, not just selves but bodies with beating hearts.
Cixin Liu, Trans. by Joel Martinsen
PositiveNPR...for a while, the novel, like that old airplane, has some trouble catching flight. And I\'ll admit to wondering occasionally in the early going, while waiting for its momentum to build, whether it might have been better to bail halfway through ... This novel rewards commitment. Eventually, after the introduction of a few late-arriving characters...Liu\'s own boundless creativity finds its footing. The wayward gears fall in line and the text shudders to life. Vivid, mind-bending life.
RaveNPRThe Big Green Tent is a masterpiece of massive ambition precisely because Ulitskaya — and, in turn, her translator, Polly Gannon — are so adept at giving tangible life to the smallest details, and even those 'C-list extras.'
Kenzaburo Oe, Trans. by Deborah Boehm
PositiveNPRSimply, it's best to be patient here. Oe may have made a trek of a novel, but he's made one that's worth the extra effort. Eventually, by the final pages, all those early difficulties give way to another challenge entirely: Just trying to let it go.
MixedNPRDeWitt seems at times to be in a rush to get all of his bows tied, especially in the novel's final act — when, with t's to cross and i's to dot, his quick pace seems to give way to a simple checklist. Questions duly get their answers, but satisfaction is another matter.