RaveElleAs suggested by the new collection’s title, the essays of Feel Free are deliciously unhampered and far-reaching ... Blending the so-called high and low, Smith renders lofty subjects accessible and elevates pop culture to the divine. She is equally comfortable employing personal narrative, literary and artistic criticism, thoughtful interrogations on race and class, and, very often, real laugh-aloud humor.
Anne Helen Petersen
RaveElle...[a] raucous and smart new book ... Because these criticisms are, writ large, the same ones flung daily at nonceleb women, the book is a timely and essential read ... Petersen's analytical skills are as vigorous as her prose and reporting are entertaining, and her engagement with writing by fellow critics and thinkers opens up a dialogue about what we talk about when we talk about disruptive women.
RaveElleCraig masterfully renders the human condition in matters micro and vast. And as Benny and Khin's story opens up to include the desires and fears of their strikingly beautiful, fiery daughter Louisa, she proves to be a singular force, a combined product of her parents' separate strengths that reveals the power in individual perseverance, even in the face of torture and slaughter. Like many of the best books, Miss Burma feels rooted in its time and place, while also laying bare timeless questions of loyalty, infidelity, patriotism, and identity—not to mention the globally perpetuated unfair treatment of women. It also raises one particularly resonant concern: What does it take to shake us out of complacency?
RaveELLEThere are some books, and this is one, that grab you in the first paragraphs and don't let go, even when the last page has been read. Haslett is certainly not the first novelist to broach the topic of depression...But he's done so with such a fresh voice and playfulness of form—Michael's sections dance from imagined, parodic notes to his therapist, aunt, and creditors, to claustrophobic catalogs of star-crossed crushes and music history—that the resulting novel begs a reevaluation of how we view and cope with tragedy. It's the epitome of that oft-misappropriated axiom, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
RaveElleIt's rare to find a novel as guiltily entertaining as it is profound, but The Nest, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's engrossing debut, is one such book. Enshrined in dark comedy that reaches near-satirical heights, this voyeuristic read has all the fun of a good Netflix binge and obeys Tolstoy's maxim about happy families to a T. The New York–dwelling Plumbs are deliciously distinctive in their unhappiness—though their nonmonetary life concerns are universally relatable.
RaveElleTennant-Moore—in this antidote to Fifty Shades of Grey—has managed to do a difficult thing: write frankly about female desire, and unfussily capture the emotional and visceral confusion of pleasure being contingent upon another human.
RaveElleThe whip-quick snapshots in Diane Williams's Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine pack a sizable punch; to read is to tread unstable ground. Discomfitingly and devastatingly funny, Williams upends the mundane, the painful, and the unusual, resulting—much in the way an art teacher might ask her class to copy a photograph upside-down—in precision and clarity.
RaveElleThe Unfinished World and Other Stories has all the furnishings of a twenty-first-century homage to the carnally macabre Angela Carter. The collection captures an off-kilter universe of almost–fairy tales with equal parts beauty and melancholy.