PositiveBookforumA lonely book. It is also angry, unflinching, and sometimes ashamed, afraid ... has the subtle, harrowing shades of Marie Darrieussecq’s My Phantom Husbandand Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment, though both were written decades later. Like these works, Tsushima’s novel chronicles the life of a woman who is in the process of reconstituting herself in the face of an absence. It is not a neat story of awakening or transformation but of the fearful joy of the unobscured horizon, of how the freshly unstructured life gapes with promise and paralysis alike ... an I-novel, a Japanese genre from the early twentieth century that now reads as a more beguiling, less embarrassed-sounding version of today’s autofiction ... In Tsushima’s unburdened territory, every corner is filled with light and there is nowhere to hide, for there need not be—not for those who seek illumination.
Fleur Jaeggy, trans. by Minna Zallman Proctor
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksEnigmatic narratives in which lives do not emerge or elapse with biographical regularity, but instead emanate and hover, swing like ballasts, and collide in the margins and gutters. This is the space of Fleur Jaeggy’s These Possible Lives, three spare and telegraphic essays about Thomas De Quincey, John Keats, and Marcel Schwob, in which each account is self-contained and exquisitely precise, capturing the arc of a whole life with filigreed economy ... Figures — peers, foes, lovers, family members — come and go with indeterminate immediacy, lingering in brief and vivid portraits haunted by peculiar details ... The essay itself becomes a form of possibility ... Jaeggy includes many details of the lives in question that would be familiar to most readers — from childhood beginnings, to furiously productive interior lives, and, finally, to haunting scenes of death ... Jaeggy’s essays possess the cool, inevitable horror of fairy tales.
RaveThe Guardian..[a] moving and energetic debut collection ... As is often the case with deftly written child narrators (most of Zhang’s seem to hover around the age of nine), deceptively simple observations are occasions for poignant and difficult personal growth: parents seem human in a new way – their disappointments, personal and professional sacrifices pitted with all too familiar, childlike desire ... Sour Heart hosts a well of emotion, but its critical organs are also intimately linked to the young female body that is hot, sticky, brazen, penetrable. These sensibilities seep into Zhang’s prose, in which interior and exterior collide in narrative jumps, associative imagery and long passages of idiosyncratic dialogue ... Zhang gives life to a chorus of voices rich with reinvention, a narrative genealogy of what it is to be, to speak and to write across many forms of expression at once.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of Books...a skilled and evocative contribution to a genre that has long frustrated definition by critics and practitioners alike ... Chew-Bose’s collection bristles with slow and tender inquisitiveness, carefully wrought anecdotes and character studies, devotion to detail, and nuanced structure in which form engages with content ... In Too Much and Not the Mood, language is playful and liberating, a tool with which to investigate thought and expression ... With a cinematographer’s eye, Chew-Bose stills time to detail and interpret minutiae, imagining the burnished interior states that might correspond ... As in the best essay collections the stories, scenes, insights, and observations are individual and specific; but they are also analogies for a certain kind of looking, spending time and attention, as well as bestowing care and devotion on the animate and the inanimate alike.