PositiveBookforumLike nearly all of Ingalls’s work, the book is heavily plotted but deceptively languorous, and its jumbling of the domestic and the bizarre places it just beyond the apprehensible ... Binstead’s Safari is not primarily an account of its heroine’s awakening. Instead it refracts otherness through a marriage, sending it spinning through two very different consciousnesses and out a shared exit wound ... Binstead’s Safari strikes a coolly resigned tone. Ingalls anchors her soaring premise with heavily controlled, modest prose, and a reticence to get too close to any character—a kind of insurance policy against sentimentality ... Ingalls isn’t shy with worst-case scenarios (death, ruination), and Binstead’s Safari doesn’t quite believe in peace. She litters the novel with reminders of the unnamed country’s recent, disappointing revolution.
MixedBookforumTrauma, and its way of overwhelming all that surrounds it, poses distinct challenges to narrative. Because it is resolutely internal and unfalsifiable (who can determine whether pain is real but the sufferer?), narrative explorations of trauma tend to be voice-driven. Eden is the rare instance of a trauma novel that privileges plot over subjectivity ... At times the novel reads like a paint-by-numbers critique of the society Boomers built: mothers reject motherhood, divorce endangers children, people join communes as a way to avoid pain or responsibility ... Kleine has a tendency of writing secondary characters as villains and protagonists as innocents. Without enough insight into Eden, her unintelligible cruelty seems designed only to flatter Hope and accentuate her inherent goodness. This flatness makes Hope an unsatisfying protagonist.
PositiveBookforumIn its equal treatment of its characters, the novel’s style is radically democratic. Rather than fleshing out what might, in another book, be central scenes, Faw provides fragment after fragment...The impression is of a life without a through line, propelled forward by habit ... The novel’s obsession with compulsive pleasure and the insufficiency of human relationships is reminiscent of Michel Houellebecq ... The reader is inside her head but stuck in a sort of antechamber, plied with signs of personality while waiting for an emotional vulnerability that never emerges. The implications of this distance are obvious: both reader and client hope to possess K more fully. But it also means that, at times, K reads like little more than a vehicle for glib observations. Without enough insight into her past or her motivations, it’s hard to know where she’s headed ... The sudden swerve into a revenge plot is as startling as a turn from realism into science fiction. Only in retrospect do we realize the extent to which we had been buying into a genre convention—the self-destructive woman’s inevitable doom.