RaveThe Washington PostCuts past the deceit, examining the histories the fable dresses up in heroic garb ... Harris reconsiders 200 years of history that many in the town would rather forget. Over more than 600 concussive pages, Harris narrates the town’s evolution and influence throughout the 19th and 20th centuries ... Palo Alto is a skeptic’s record, a vital, critical demonstration of Northern California’s two centuries of mixing technology and cruelty for money ... Even while attending to larger patterns, Palo Alto studiously works through the town’s history by focusing on its most famous and influential residents ... Harris demonstrates that the charming story with which we began, in which hippies freed the world by virtue of their genius and creativity, was always a convenient deception.
Mario Levrero, tr. Annie McDermott
PositiveFull StopThe bookreads like an encyclopedia of obsessions, dispersions, hindrances, and obstacles to its very writing ... Levrero commits to saying nothing too crucial or writing about something for more than a couple pages. Seemingly random themes are strategies for escaping seriousness and sentimentality. The contents of this impossible novel turn out to be the difficulty of writing, the bodily and psychological pains it brings ... The most basic structures of literature—plotting, narration, publication—come apart in the depths of Levrero’s luminous, mundane, and erratic interiority. Literature offers no shelter, no comfort or rescue from the total crisis, and Levrero questions any attempt to claim literature as a respite or an escape. He displays the many failures and functions of the literary, a product of inescapable forces with which he cannot be bothered. Laziness and indifference in the face of the impossibility render nothing, much less a smooth, marketable, \'relatable\' final product, but they do constitute an insurgence against comfortable narrative structures. Like the system of gatekeepers that delivers The Luminous Novel into English translation only now, almost two decades after its publication.
Mariana Enriquez, tr. Megan McDowell
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksEnríquez’s prose is always subtle in its suggestiveness, distilling poetic flashes and vernacular dialect into an ideal web that sublimates unadulterated, awesome fear with language of everyday life. Translating Enríquez’s lyrical vernacular — heavy with the slang and cadences of the Río de la Plata and Northeastern reaches of Argentina — is no simple feat. Horror in Enríquez’s fiction often hinges upon brief phrases that endow banal observation with disgust’s cloying sheen. McDowell recasts the horrific use of such idiolectical subtleties via the repetition of banal, unsettling adjectives and a deft use of caesura ... Enríquez’s imaginative project has an unassuming but potent social transversality, through which she has reimagined the post-dictatorial urban middle class’s spiritual life and disentangled its ideological components. She achieves this through a mundane poetics that is not lost to the English reader but captured brilliantly in the surgical brevity and rhythmic persistence of McDowell’s text.