PositiveLibrary Journal... van den Berg mines the broad overlap among loss, defeat, and horror with a deft touch, backlit by the unsettling effects of travel, natural disasters, death, and that thin membrane between the supernatural and the simply strange. The ghosts in her stories are her narrators\' better, unachieved selves, the dread embodied in the realization of how easy it is to miss life\'s transitions from before to after ... These well-crafted and intelligent stories about the many ways a life can be haunted will gratify readers who enjoy perceptive, slightly gothic tales.
MixedLibrary JournalThe title novella and four short stories are all driven by an effectively uncomfortable sense of dissociation—people distanced from the workings of their own hearts. Yet Tuck misses her mark; the knockout punches of love or youth that hobble her characters call for stronger emotions to ground their stories than she gives them ... This short collection takes a respectable look at the ways we evade our own truths but doesn’t engage as deeply as its subjects merit.
PositiveLibrary Journal20 short, sharp stories ... Yuknavitch’s imagery is visceral, and the mood skews angry throughout the collection; themes of sexual violence—often against children—may be triggering for readers. But she writes with a darkly beautiful precision, and her compassion for outcasts and damaged souls offers an underlying tenderness while avoiding redemptive clichés ... A dark and often unsettling collection that some readers will find difficult but that will reward those seeking fierce, intimate writing.
RaveLibrary Journal... [an] impressive first collection ... Wisel never allows us to pity her protagonists, who are tenacious, loyal to one another, and intelligent ... The women’s fierce bonds, in particular, are wonderfully portrayed. Wisel’s prose is strobelike, illuminating the gritty landscape with small, powerful details ... This dynamic--and often harrowing--collection beautifully spotlights lives that are rough around the edges; not standard fare but highly recommended.
PositiveLibrary JournalThe selection here is uneven, and the skill Smith demonstrates in the strongest stories sets off the unfinished feel of several of the autofictional pieces. She is at her brilliant best when channeling voices and conjuring settings ... The caliber of these pieces varies, but Smith’s keen intellect shines through them all. Both her fans and readers who enjoy smart fiction with an up-to-the-minute sensibility, will find much to like.
RaveLibrary JournalShe begins with cheeky bravado and righteous anger toward men, middle age, and awkwardness ... Albertine intersperses these portraits with her own deeply ambivalent musings—she and her mother were close—autobiographical vignettes, and a running narrative of the night of her mother\'s death, featuring a horrendous (and hilarious) brawl with her sister in the hospital. All are saved from bleakness by the author\'s chipper voice, in turns dry, profane, self-deprecating, and darkly funny ... For memoir fans who appreciate an engaging, unsentimental take on knotty family dynamic.