PositiveThe Heavy Feather ReviewThis novel is the Pale Fire of paintings, and the museum—a small, privately-funded institution in a town noted mostly for its shovel factory—is the unreliable narrator version of exhibition spaces. The objectivity we would expect in such labels is replaced by unsoftened opinions, a catalogue of strange deaths, and an accumulation of abrupt narrative scraps. These glimpses add up to create a larger view of the Seagraves’ circle of eccentric friends as well as the tragedy that struck the family’s lives ... The poignancy of her meditations on regrets of the past and the approach of her final moments on earth provide a profound contrast for the novel’s more comic material ... includes a number of genuinely fascinating ideas for works of visual art, as if Kirkpatrick, perhaps lacking the time or the means to actualize his ideas, was still able to give them a sort of life via description.
PositiveThe Kenyon Review\"Several of the stories in Ethan Chatagnier’s collection of short stories Warnings from the Future are interested in creators, in how artists across a variety of media contend with their more famous precursors ... While the stories expose systems of terrifying power in familiar settings—cops, corporations, dogmas, and demagogues—unexpected complexities and inverted dynamics continually crop up to distance the stories from didacticism or overfamiliarity ... Just when you might think you’re full-up on powerful stories, you come to \'Dentists,\' the final story in the collection—the shortest, the most urgent, the most narratively simple, the most ethically complex.\
MixedThe Washington Independent Review of BooksBall’s assays at Cormac McCarthy-esque plainness and archaic tone, along with his love of parentheticals and backtracking, at times cause syntactic tangles I was helpless to figure out ... The novel’s main philosophical thrust comes through the narrator’s interest in the writing of Gerhard Mutter, a fictional naturalist who wrote obsessively about cormorants. The narrator’s sublime attempt to see the world as his son sees it is paralleled with Mutter’s trying to know the mind of the birds she so admires. Their worlds are inaccessible in that they are not filtered through language, the narrator claims, or at least — in his son’s case — are filtered through an approach to words that differs from what we take for granted ... The task of the census, in its efforts to translate lives into categories and statistics, is thus set in diametric opposition to the knowledge our narrator actually seeks.