PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... a timely entry into the conversation this country’s been having for years about \'otherness.\' ... Who are these people? You’ve seen them before, which forecloses on opportunities the novel might have taken to explore a more nuanced version of, for instance, your standard missionary who patronizes the savages in the name of saving them. Still, it’s interesting to see all this from the \'savage’s\' point of view.
RaveBookforumFifty pages into this novel—Susan Choi’s fifth—I was ready to write about it. I understood its design and I admired its execution ... Choi documents with flair what happens to these kids over the course of the school year. There’s almost an anthropological component here ... It might bear mention that it is pretty difficult to write about teenagers—especially young teenagers—and expect an adult readership to care ... Only an exceptionally good writer with a surfeit of guile and guts will be able to pull that off. Which makes the first half of Trust Exercise a feat in its own right ... And yet, something about these early pages felt off. The plotlines that never got going. The red herrings ... I expected a sentence maker of Choi’s caliber—and she is first-rate—to know something was off. Which, it turns out, she did ... Consider the latter half of the novel full of new perspectives on the material we’ve just lived through ... What once flew in the rarefied air of teen feeling plummets into the dark, petty, and mean streets of adulthood. If nothing else, this new voice is testament to Choi’s facility with voice—she can do it all ... This novel is bold ... Choi is a master at depicting how mutually exclusive feelings often coexist ... In the end, there’s no shortage of insight in this novel.
PositiveBookforum\"Leni Zumas’s spry new novel, Red Clocks, does a nice job both of denaturing the world and of riffing on extreme versions of it ... Zumas showcases their experience of femaleness and, in so doing, asks us to rethink what it really means to be female in a world that’s written almost exclusively by men and, in particular, by men who know nothing—and care nothing—for women’s rights. If this sounds all too familiar, your dread reading this novel will be palpable … For all its polemics, Red Clocks is actually most notable for the brio of its prose—its excellent sense of timing and cadence. The novel moves at a clip. Often it’s downright jaunty. This has the benefit of ensuring that we never get stuck in any one place.\
RaveElectric LiteratureWhile some of the fiction here trucks in the high jinks we’ve come to associate with a Saunders story — the crazy venues and vocations — many of the stories break new ground, even as they reprise some of Saunders’s more familiar obsessions … What’s at stake here — and, I’d argue, throughout all of Saunders’s work — is moral fortitude and forgiveness and how these qualities can be mobilized in the effort to be good — a good parent, a good kid, a good person … He’s got one of the most refined and sensitive empathic facilities of any writer I know.
PositiveBookforumThe Circle becomes interesting when Eggers begins to invoke the quandary presented by Edward Snowden and his release of classified information regarding the government’s surveillance of our phone conversations and e-mails. Snowden has raised awareness of the extent to which our government values privacy less than security. Ironically, the Circle would agree … The Circle is meant to hold up a mirror to a moment in our cultural history in which we spend more time online than we do with each other … The novel is not so much about what the tech world is like—it’s about what we are like, what we do with technology, and where we very well might be headed.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt’s hard to know where to begin. Steve Erickson’s 10th (10th!) novel is: compassionate, weird, unpredictable, jaunty. It’s sad, and it’s droll and sometimes it’s gorgeous. Some readers will be confused by its 'plot' until realizing there’s little point trying to figure out what exactly is going on. Others will find their footing in Erickson’s supremely engaging interest in the landscape of American music ... It’s really not a novel in which (snore) A and B do X, Y, Z. It’s more like a polyphonic dirge for an America that has perhaps never lived anywhere but in the imagination of those of us who keep fighting for it anyway ... Erickson has mobilized so much of what feels pressing and urgent about the fractured state of the country in a way that feels fresh and not entirely hopeless, if only because the exercise of art in opposition to complacent thought can never be hopeless ... The mockery, longing and disillusionment of this music are splashed all over Shadowbahn ... In 2017, it reads like an answer to and sanctuary from the American Century to come.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review“The Association of Small Bombs, is wonderful. It is smart, devastating, unpredictable and enviably adept in its handling of tragedy and its fallout. If you enjoy novels that happily disrupt traditional narratives — about grief, death, violence, politics — I suggest you go out and buy this one.