PositiveOn the SeawallThe most sustained and powerful narrative element in the book arrives toward the end of part two, carried largely by a series of letters written by a cousin of Stepanova’s maternal grandfather ... Stepanova is an important voice among the first generation of post-Soviet Muscovite writers. In Memory of Memory functions something like a master key to 20-century Russia. It covers a vast historical and cultural territory and traces the connections.
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune\"... a private sense of alienation pervades these 15 essays on such binaries as theology and branding, the soul and technology, the Midwest vs. the coasts. An Upper Midwest intellectual from a fundamentalist Christian family, O’Gieblyn brings an outsider’s voice to bear on subjects from economic decline and liberal hipsterism to transhumanism and the questionable teleology of motherhood.\
RaveMinneapolis Star Tribune\"To enter the splendid core of ire and intelligence coursing through Rebecca Traister’s third book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, is to be sustained by its heat, invigorated, galvanized ... [Traister\'s] exploration of the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment — kicked off with her own experience of a violent Harvey Weinstein — is instantly canonical.\
PositiveThe Star TribuneDespite its catalog of horrors—car crashes and concussions, black moods and bad boyfriends, the coming apart at the seams—its prose entrances and shimmers like haze rising from the blacktop in triple-digit heat. In the book’s occasional \'interlude,\' the tension lifts as Khakpour reflects on her experiences, and I wish she’d made more room for reflection overall. Sick would have been stronger with a more complex texture, but she skimps on emotional complication in favor of hurtling forward ... \'To find a home in my body,\' Khakpour considers, \'is to tell a story that doesn’t exist.\' But that’s what writers do, and now it does.
MixedSlate...deeply researched, engaging, yet tentative first book ... Dean traces their literary biographies in lucid prose, following the arcs of their careers ... yet reading Sharp I longed for some sort of interstitial tissue that might bind these women together—something more substantive than a tendency toward brilliance, lacerating judgments, and ambivalence toward feminism ... Dean doesn’t, until quite late in the book, offer much on the ways their works may speak to or past each other either stylistically or thematically ... what she offers is close to a primer ... I closed the last page of Dean’s book with the sense that she’d held herself back. I regretted her choice to stake out but a few of her own ideas in the ongoing conversation about criticism, gender, and power.
MixedThe San Francisco ChronicleBeattie often seems over-friendly to the bigotry of her straight, white, affluent characters, playing it for laughs ... Surprisingly, Beattie also offers up some unvarnished truths about male depression. These pages are chockablock with depressed men: guys who’ve lost their wives or girlfriends; men ravaged by disease; men who drink too much or get desultory curbside oral sex; men who are mum about their heart medicine ... The women of The Accomplished Guest may be felled by inertia, whether self-imposed or a hazard of aging, but its men are losing control.
RaveSlateLila gives us Gilead life from a completely different vantage point, its outsider’s perspective casting little tremors of doubt back over events and actions contained in the prior novels. With its undiluted passion and earned affirmation of the human struggle—it’s no spoiler to say that Lila stays put with the Reverend, since Gilead finds the couple raising their by-then 7-year-old son—Lila is easily the richest and most satisfying in this triptych of masterly works … The voice’s seductions encourage us to submerge ourselves in Lila’s story and serve as guide and comfort through the novel’s challenges and complexities.
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune\"The visceral beauty of such scenes is matched in evocations of the sheltered Cape Cod where she grew up, its shores, lake and woodlands replete with childhood tests and dangers. Fairy tales are ribboned into the essays, as well as myth, philosophy, Jung, Rilke and pop culture mirrors such as Freaks and Geeks — and much more. Though initially rewarding, by book’s end intertextuality and digression begin to cluster and fuse like a lattice, screening Febos’ stunning gifts for metaphor and raw emotional truths. Arguably, the more compact essays carry greater power.\
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune...sparkling and original ... Her literary peregrinations defy boundaries, fusing cultural history, criticism, psycho-geography and memoir. Both playful and bracingly intelligent, Elkin’s elegant prose unfurls a portrait of the writer as an urban woman ... Elkin revels in this energy, mapping her experience in several cities onto the process and works of women writers and artists, including Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Martha Gellhorn, filmmaker Agnès Varda, artist Sophie Calle, and George Sand, in whose footsteps we trod at explosive moments when art and life intersect with periods of great social and political unrest in the city of Paris ... Flâneuse also happens to reflect the polarities our global age: flânerie is rooted, local, nostalgic, but Elkin’s globe-trotting exemplifies the way we live now, mixing cultures, blurring borders and negotiating the widening gaps between identity and place. With perhaps an eerie prescience, Flâneuse examines the interrelationships of city, self and world.
MixedThe Minneapolis Star TribuneLillian’s story spans most of the 20th century, touching on racism, the AIDS crisis, immigration and women’s rights, but Lillian Boxfish is more ode to flânerie or slant screwball comedy than historical novel or social critique. Despite her brilliance, we learn, Lillian never achieves earning parity, is forced out of a job during pregnancy and — like Margaret Fishback — would have faced regular workplace harassment, yet her story often lacks friction. Even her wrenching personal troubles develop largely offstage. Such omissions keep our self-assured heroine firmly in command as she strolls the city streets, but the novel is weaker for its uniform tone and averted conflict.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThe territory may be bleak but McLaughlin maps it with a rare lightness of touch — with humor, compassion and a sense of wonder, all solid as the elements ... [a] nearly faultless collection.
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune...[a] smart, crisply written thriller ... In alternating chapters, the novel traces Anna’s anguished attempts to learn the truth and unwinds tales of teen girls on the run, on the streets, in group homes and foster homes — with the frequent common denominator of sexual abuse. The second strand is a familiar strain in recent fiction. The more propulsive narrative often belongs to Anna, a mother forced to confront failures she’s inherited and those of her own making.
PositiveSlateWhat it lacks in plot The Reactive makes up for with the pleasures of the trio’s spaced-out, deeply inward friendship ... The Reactive is largely a novel about Nathi fumbling toward meaning. It does not look closely at the AIDS pandemic or at poverty or politics—but politics inform the novel’s conditions ... [a] haunting and seductive novel.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThe collection crackles with energy, its tales jolting in unexpected directions, pleasingly anarchic — typically short but not flash. You sometimes feel a little woozy after finishing one: Everything is half a bubble out of plumb.