PositiveThe Guardian (UK)... a slim book with a lot going on ... I was reminded of Ben Lerner. Stevens loves technicality; her sentences are cleverly playful, finding use for words such as \'horripilation\' and \'glabrous\', and she frequently draws attention to grammatical terms and forms ... droll and also poignant – symptomatic of Stevens’s voice. I admire her warmth, which doesn’t always flow through these kinds of self-referential sentences, and I enjoyed how The Visitors does its own maximal thing ... There’s a verve and craziness to all this, but the book is also pained, and sympathetic to those who experience pain, which is everybody ... I’m not sure I was with them through every turned, information-loaded sentence. I’m not sure whether Stevens intended me to be, or whether these \'long-winded lectures\' are just part of the ride. The book accepts, and even delights in, the strenuous absurdity of its characters’ efforts to index the relationship between the virtual and the material, or to locate the source of reality in imagination.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)An absorbing novel – the unravelling of Anna’s career and the increasing constriction of her relationship are gripping without feeling mechanically plotted. Anna’s struggle to be successful, loved and financially secure is lonely, but Crimp addresses these troubles, as they are specific to Anna’s generation, with a thin-lipped sense of humour ... I have a limited attention span for the pixel-by-pixel portrait of one person’s fluctuating self-worth, as when Anna eschews going to work in favour of taking mournful baths. But it seems reasonable to think that similarities in these stories expose something about the lives of young women now.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)From the outset, there’s a weird pathos to its disturbed and disturbing world ... Kleeman creates tensions between the intimate human stories that are the mainstay of literary fiction and the non-human worlds in which these stories happen. She is a playful rather than a lecturing writer, mining the different ways in which the personal is snarled up in the environmental, and vice versa ... develops this intense focus in brief passages that digress into largely unseen worlds: sewage pipes, the heart of a wildfire, a prehistoric seascape. When a fictional setting is given a great deal of attention, it’s become a cliche to describe it as a character in the story. That cliche requires an assumption that forests or weather fronts don’t habitually make anything happen. In Kleeman’s novel, as in real life, this assumption looks wishful: scenery and infrastructure threaten to murder the protagonists ... sun-drenched, sharply observed and swift-moving; the sentences are beautiful. What makes it strange and new is the way the narrative disrupts itself. With concentrated attention on each flame in a wildfire, prehistoric marine life forms, or the plastic taste of soft furnishings in a carpet beetle’s mouth, it takes notice of much that is outside the brief of the story of Patrick and Cassidy, Alison and Nora. The book encompasses extra reality, but the experience of reading it is oddly surreal – it exposes unsettling truths about this \'world as a whole, trembling with life and violence\', hiding in plain sight.
Andrew H. Miller
PositiveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Insightful as the analyses are, it wouldn’t be possible to tackle this fascinatingly amorphous subject without grappling, deeply earnestly, with the nature of what it is to live a life. Miller has chosen an exposing subject. His book is gently, thoughtfully personal. Short sections written in the first person are interspersed with passages of textual criticism, and there are also summaries of news stories and psychology studies. These resources help Miller to think about how alternative lives function, within and beyond the literary work ... the studies he cites are revealing ... Miller’s arguments steer the book away from despair at contemporary life ... I agree with Miller—I think he has identified a considerable subject of literature as I know it, and he shows, in a pleasingly unmethodical way, how experience and literature dictate form to one another. There are interesting leads for many further studies inside his capacious book.