PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... a raucously inventive tale of loss and erasure told with an authorial assurance uncommon in a first novel. While Hazel begins with a carnival of interconnected characters rattling around in the Apelles, her story ultimately flies out in all directions, spanning generations and continents as it explores the challenge of understanding one’s place in what might be called real life, while schlepping around others’ painful pasts as well as one’s own ... Along the way, there are some trippy excursions involving auditory time travel and the earth’s crust, where not all readers will care to follow. But Livings is a nimble wordsmith. And if his novel can be discursive and the language overwrought — metaphors begetting metaphors like the successively smaller cats popping out of the Cat in the Hat’s striped headgear — the overall effect is thought-provoking, and this rollickingly bleak rendering of 1970s New York is well worth a visit.
MixedThe Washington PostThe possibility of dramatic transformation amid historical ferment is at the heart of The World of Tomorrow, a fat novel stuffed with well-drawn characters grappling with different versions of themselves ... Mathews is an able prose stylist, and breathing life into so many diverse characters is no mean feat. But the book, like the men and women who populate its pages, is riven by conflicting identities. For all the craft Mathews lavishes on these intricate backstories, the sensational plot that binds the characters together feels like a somewhat facile screen story grafted onto a literary novel ... Mathews’s broad scope diminishes his story’s intimacy and the reader’s emotional engagement. Still, Mathews has a flair for bringing street scenes to life, and his hopscotching narrative — from a Harlem jazz joint to a Bowery art studio to a Fifth Avenue palace — makes for an enjoyable tour of a vanished city. The World of Tomorrow is an appealing if uneven debut by a promising writer.