Deborah Krieger graduated from Swarthmore College in 2016 with a degree in Art History, German Studies, and Film and Media Studies. She has been writing about art and culture on her site www.i-on-the-arts.com since 2010, and has been freelancing for other sites since 2013, including the Los Angeles Review of Books, BUST, Paste Magazine, Hyperallergic, Whitehot Magazine, and more. She is also the curatorial assistant at the Delaware Art Museum. From September 2016 to July 2017 she was on a Fulbright scholarship in Vienna, Austria, where she researched contemporary Jewish and Roma artists in the city and taught English to high school students. @DebOnTheArts
Jenny Hval, Trans. by Marjam Idriss
MixedPopMattersAs you read Jenny Hval\'s Paradise Rot, it becomes clear that Hval is writing for the senses, conjuring with almost nauseating accuracy sensations both mundane and extraordinary ... By the time you close the book, you practically expect the pages to be damp and stained from the juice of apples ... Paradise Rot is not necessarily a pleasurable read, blurring the lines of the coming-of-age genre with psychological horror and rendered in such lucid, impressionistically descriptive prose that merely reading it makes you feel fairly woozy. 5/10.
PositivePopMatters\"The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is Stuart Turton\'s debut novel, but one wouldn\'t know it\'s a debut, as it\'s incredibly polished and self-assured, and an utterly delightful yarn ... The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle mixes some of the best elements of long-form journalism and thriller storytelling ... There are moments of brilliance in The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, particularly when Turton allows his main character (whom we eventually learn is named Aiden) to fully make use of the hosts he\'s possessing at any given moment ... The clichés of such fiction are, of course, ever-present: there are torrid hidden affairs, instances of secret parentage, another murder or two thrown in there for good measure—the expected genre twists and turns galore ... But ultimately, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a rollicking, exciting, and well-paced period mystery that deserves a place on your bookshelf.\
PositivePopMatters\"... thoughtful ... the moments where Thier suspends his gentle skewering of the sorts of people Murphy and Eva represent are genuinely wonderful ... The World Is a Narrow Bridge... is as rudderless as its characters in search of something meaningful. It tells a story about wandering aimlessly while literally wandering and digressing in a narrative sense, dipping and curving along pathways of thought and philosophy, jumping among seeming non sequiturs that charm as often as they frustrate ... The structure of the prose matches the plot of the story, which is stylistically clever but doesn\'t translate into seamless enjoyment.\
R O Kwon
MixedpopMATTERSR. O. Kwon\'s The Incendiaries has that goopy, impressionistic textured prose found in novels like The Girls by Emma Cline and Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff ... The descriptive storytelling action is generously mixed with flashes of introspection and pure passages of elegant language, which smartly serves to establish the unreliability of our given narrator, Will Kendall ... The Incendiaries is less a story than a collection of these impressions and imprinted moments, feeling at times like an exercise in teasing out the most abstracted and poetical way of writing about something, often letting any potential sense of narrative propulsion fall to the wayside ... actually reading it means often stepping back from that twisted, lush prose to remember than the story itself is fairly simple, albeit rendered in a non-clichéd way ... Most of what didn\'t resonate with me on a story-related level can be explained through the incredible deliberate narrowness of how its story is presented to us—it\'s always through Will\'s eyes, even when it appears as though Phoebe or John Leal is speaking ... For a cult leader whose influence drives one major character astray, John Leal isn\'t very charismatic or enticing at all, coming across through Will\'s jaded psyche as overly dramatic, a suspicious fraud right from the get-go. That\'s obviously a choice that Kwon made, preferring to keep [the cult] Jejah translated through Will\'s perception rather than risk letting us, the readers, be tempted by its doctrines.
PositivePopMatters\"In contrast to Sedaris\' preceding essay collections, Calypso\'s focus is narrow ... To read Calypso is to see in Sedaris a shift from the frustrated, sometimes grudging enjoyment of his family\'s foibles we\'re familiar with, to a more urgent realization that they\'re no longer young, and that they only have so much time together left on this earth. Calypso paradoxically uses this wandering, almost distracted-seeming style of storytelling within the overall themes of the book to conjure a sense of Sedaris traveling through his own thoughts, getting lost on particular charming tangents about his siblings before coming back to what he ultimately wants you to take away ... [The essays are] comedic because they\'re in that familiar essayistic format by noted humorist David Sedaris, but at their core they\'re as melancholy as anything he\'s ever written. The moments that make you laugh out loud are few and far between, used as a garnish rather than forming the meat of the story. The sharpness and exaggerated pettiness of his earliest books are all but gone, replaced with a gentler sort of wryness that, one assumes, comes with the wisdom of middle age and experience.\
MixedPopMatters\"The Oracle Year, Charles Soule\'s debut novel, starts with an incredibly promising premise and, for the most part, that promise is borne out in the rest of the narrative ... There may simply be too many characters for viewers to get invested in (e.g.,Will, Hamza, Miko, and eventually Leigh), and even those characters seem sketched-out at best ... The effectiveness of the jumping-around, intertwined narrative style also rests on the complexity and finesse each section is given, and there\'s a lot of variation in quality ... The Oracle Year feels almost like an omnibus collection of volumes of a comic book series... But in a work of fiction that\'s meant to flow together cohesively, the continued pattern of dramatic cliffhanger leading to a plot twist or bombshell reveal gets a little wearying after a while.\
MixedPopMatters\"... the pacing of Matt Haig\'s newest novel reminded me of a screenplay more than a novel ... That\'s not a knock on How to Stop Time, but perhaps it does explain my lingering dissatisfaction with the thin mythos of the novel and the too-quick wrap-up at the end ... There are certainly delights to be found in How to Stop Time, despite its tendency to oversimplify. The story is intriguing even if it never quite fully rises to its potential ... The prose is strong and occasionally excellent, and there are some lovely quirks that allow the reader to experience, in some part, the strangeness of existing through centuries of change and development ... It\'s certainly entertaining to read about Tom stumbling into the realms of beloved famous individuals simply by virtue of being alive for centuries, but it strikes me as a failure to completely craft the world in which Tom, Hendrich, and everyone else lives...\
MixedPopMatters\"Paul Goldberg\'s The Château really took a second reading for me to warm up to fully ... The Château gets off to a rocky start, seeming to reflect every cliché of this kind of literary fiction ... In short, Goldberg\'s still writing about a kind of family he\'s known and experienced, even if it\'s not his literal family, and thus his observations have the ring of truth to them, as bleak as that may seem.\
MixedPopMatters\"Thus it\'s a little bit of a mixed bag to report that while Young Jane Young is snappy, sharp, and timely, bearing plenty of Zevin\'s stronger stylistic elements, it\'s not quite on the same level of profundity as her earlier novels ... Zevin\'s approach to characterization is generally as strong as ever ... Perhaps it\'s a result of Young Jane Young\'s zeitgeisty nature, but the novel, enjoyable as it is, doesn\'t necessarily warrant a second reading ... I typically enjoy books that continue to reveal layers upon further deep dives, but while Zevin\'s book is punchy and entertaining, it\'s not particularly complex ... Yet timeliness itself isn\'t quite enough for Young Jane Young to match the heights of emotion and profundity of Zevin\'s 2005 debut Elsewhere...\
PositivePopMatters\"... getting my hands on Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) allows me to consolidate his pre-2002 essays with the real-time diary entries that formed their foundations. It’s almost like putting together one of those crime-show suspect boards in my mind as I draw the connections from kernel to finished story, filling in my mental images of his father, mother, and siblings with increasingly fine detail ... tracing Sedaris’ life over the course of Theft By Finding, can become oddly poignant and heartbreaking at times, because we know to a large extent future events diary-David doesn’t ... Theft By Finding is like reading the first few Sedaris books in miniature.\
PanPopMatters\"It’s a totally fascinating concept that Auster has utilized in 4 3 2 1, to be sure, but as I continued the story, finding different moments of where I was charmed, heartened, and even emotionally affected across Ferguson’s four lives, my mind kept going back to [the TV show \'Community\'] and how this single 23-odd minute segment of television made far better use of the tool of diverging timelines than a book that stands at 880 pages ... If we set the premise of 4 3 2 1 aside, what\'s left is a collection of genuinely exciting and downright banal episodes in Ferguson’s lives ... The prose of 4 3 2 1 is functional, albeit generally uneven ... The question of whether I found a book to be worthwhile is gauging my desire, upon finishing it, to immediately flip back to the first page and relive the adventure all over again. 4 3 2 1 did not inspire this ritual.\