PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIf there was ever a novel to defy a one-sentence description, Melissa Broder’s new novel would be it. An exploration of hunger centered on a young woman with an eating disorder who finds salvation in the arms of an Orthodox Jewish frozen yogurt scooper, Milk Fed is an even stranger animal than this description might suggest ... With its deadpan tone and self-loathing female narrator attempting to escape her self, the novel may call to mind Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation. But where Moshfegh’s protagonist lives to sleep, Broder’s antiheroine lives to eat. Sweet, rich and fattening foods, from duck sauce to doughnuts, are Rachel’s forbidden fruit ... Milk Fed bravely questions the particularly female lionization of thin and loathing of fat, landing on fresh explanations ... Milk Fed is a celebration of bodily liberation, not a more communal and political version, and the ways we keep ourselves chained to others’ ideas of whom and what we ought to look like and long for.
PanThe New York Times Book Review\'When people show you who they are, believe them the first time,\' Maya Angelou once told Oprah Winfrey. Unfortunately, two decades on, Miller still seems only half-willing to believe, and even less willing than that to pass judgment on, a man who, his prodigious talents and premature death by suicide notwithstanding, did not apparently see or treat women as fully human. It is this reluctance that ultimately renders In the Land of Men a painful and frustrating read ... sometimes seems at odds with itself, it’s because Miller — who can be witty and knowledgeable about the clichés of fiction written by men — apparently regards Wallace as too special and too fragile to have been held to the rules that she applies to others. \'Troubled male genius\' is an old trope, but Miller elevates it to new heights ... By the time she tells us that Wallace \'changed the world\' and compares him to Alexander the Great, I began to wonder if her praise, fulsome to the point of hagiographic, especially for a writer who elicits as many eye rolls as encomiums, was best understood as her effort to explain to herself why she never told the guy to get lost ... Wallace and Miller’s unequal relationship reads as an allegory for the quiet humiliation that Miller suffered professionally as a young woman. Yet Miller herself, maybe because she is still too close to the subject, or maybe because the tragic nature of Wallace’s death inclines her to dissemble, seems unable or unwilling to fully embrace the connection. Even the conclusions she draws while dealing with Wallace seem misguided.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewDee uses a roving, limited omniscience to give voice to a wide array of Howland’s residents...Together they provide a panoramic view of a local population reinforcing the idea that most people, no matter where they live or what their socioeconomic status, are selfish and semi-delusional if generally well meaning ... In his portrait of an urban sophisticate who relocates to the country, Dee can sometimes resemble a discursive, more cynical Richard Russo. But the book is ultimately less concerned with Hadi himself than with his influence on the unhappy, rivalrous and dysfunctional Firth family ... As the tension builds, protests are planned. Yet for all that the book gestures at a kind of political allegory, it shies away from the capital-S Scene it seems to promise and tapers away into anticlimax. Even more confoundingly, Dee concludes the novel in much the way he begins it, with an episode that feels unconnected from the main action. Still, The Locals is a quietly engrossing narrative that dishes out its food for thought in sly, quotable lines.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewWayne’s writing is spiky and electric, and combined with his use of the collective 'we' (at least in the initial chapter), it reminded me of the early work of Jeffrey Eugenides ... if the setup is promising, the discomfort this reader experienced while reading Loner was manifold. For one thing, the dichotomy Wayne establishes between the digestion-addled, potato-shaped, hopelessly provincial and embarrassingly ambitious Jew versus the effortlessly soignée and sophisticated WASP seems, at this point in American history, not only a cliché but an anachronism .. as Loner barrels toward its shocking and not entirely plausible conclusion, the reader may begin to wonder what value there is in being inside the mind of the novel’s deceitful and deranged antihero.