PositiveLos Angeles TimesEach of these pieces...is presented here as an independent struggle to find meaning on its own terms. Still, there is a sense of progression from one to the next. Klay is certainly no fan of the war machine — nor is he a pacifist — but he proves too wise a writer to fall for the trap of prescribing what others should think or feel about American military action. Instead, early essays in which he asks himself how he should feel about his experiences set the stage for bigger ideas ... Klay’s warnings against neatly packaged explanations can risk sounding obvious, though the keenness of his observations is unmatched ... Though these pieces were written over several years, reading them together positions them into an inevitable conversation with one another. Leitmotifs emerge through repetition of stories and images ... Reading it all together is a little like watching a stand-up comic work through the same jokes on different nights; the brilliance of the feat is both deepened and dampened in the repetition. The illusion of spontaneity is lost ... The author hybridizes many forms of nonfiction to explore questions people have been asking about war for centuries ... With this collection, Klay transcends his self-description as “a writer who was once a Marine and writes about war” to become more of a philosopher. He uses war to pose urgent questions about political identity and personal faith that will endure long after the narratives of recent conflicts get revised and their terminology fades into history.
RaveChicago Review of BooksAs far as [love] triangles go, the one in Lillian Fishman\'s debut novel Acts of Service is a perfectly messy inquiry into the nature of power and desire...Much of the novel feels like a philosophical inquisition into how to live...Even in the most corpeal scenes, dialog animates the psychic dynamism between [Olivia, Eve, and Nathan]...Physical action between bodies isn\'t to be trusted at face value any more than Nathan\'s habit of ashing cigarettes into wine glasses...Like a well crafted stage play, every gesture is loaded with meaning...The way Nathan slaps Olivia feels hot in one moment, only to become cause for concern in the next...Eve\'s private thoughts interpret many scenes with her feminist, anti-capitalist critique of everything, from Olivia and Nathan\'s workplace dynamics, to their avoidance of safe words...This constant teetering between pleasure and angst over what Eve feels and what she thinks creates a momentum that relies on exceedingly eccentric complications rather than any expectation of resolution.