RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksIf we are prepared to see the air let out of Patrick’s tires a little bit—maybe more than a little bit—well, that’s largely because a million other books and movies and TV shows about Hollywood have led us to expect as much. Kleeman’s eye is deft enough, her senses of satire and proportion sufficiently stropped, that I wouldn’t have minded if that’s what she did. Her descriptions of Cassidy’s filmography and of Patrick’s bibliography are plausibly funny — or rather, are just implausible enough to be funny — and her ear for the cinephilic bickering of the PAs and the greasy reassurances of the producers are likewise on point. It’s tempting, at the beginning of the novel, to relax, to settle in for the ride that will lead Patrick Hamlin toward his inevitable comeuppance ... Kleeman’s great skill, and this novel’s abiding triumph, is how seamlessly she blends the horrific with the mundanely troubling, the ridiculous — or the impossible — with the ordinarily absurd ... Kleeman’s unraveling of this plot is satisfying enough, but she’s no more interested in writing a noir than she is a conventional Hollywood satire. What is really happening here — what Kleeman has ultimately in mind — should be kept under wraps to some extent, but it’s worth noting that the world she describes, despite its occasional exaggerations, remains a canny mirror of our own.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewPompous, opinionated, self-conscious, self-loathing, B. is an astonishing creation: a volcano of ridiculous opinions and absurd neuroses, a balding, bearded nightmare of a person whose involutions could practically carry a 700-page narrative by themselves because they, and he, are so riotously funny ... Anyone who’s ever seen a Charlie Kaufman film will recognize the landscape here: a loose-but-faithless representation of \'reality\' that ripples with psychedelic strangeness ... If only this summary did any kind of justice to the ferocious comedic energy of the book’s opening, or prepared one for the imaginative maelstrom to follow. It must be said that, by any standard — and even for someone who remembers the shock of Kaufman’s work when it was passed around Hollywood as unproduced samizdat in the 1990s — Antkind is an exceptionally strange book. It is also an exceptionally good one, and though one is tempted to reach for the roster of comparably gnostic novels by contemporary (-ish) writers — not just Wallace, but Pynchon, obviously; John Barth; Joshua Cohen, perhaps — such comparisons inevitably collapse ... The novel’s doublings and redoublings are sometimes confounding, its perversions of an already-perverse reality so lavish as to verge on the gratuitous, and yet. …I’m hard-pressed to call the book \'difficult,\' simply because its portrait of B. is so oddly humane and because its baseline energies are closer to those of a Tex Avery cartoon (or an Abbott and Costello routine) than they are to the dauntingly postmodern tradition of which the book also partakes ... Even at its most hallucinogenic, <Antkind remains appealingly earthy ... In a world that is endlessly reshaping itself in the grips of malign and incomprehensible powers, we are all hapless Punchinellos, like B. And yet it is only through being such that we can find — as Kaufman’s novel does, too — anything resembling grace.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksHe may or may not have felt it to be, but his first novel, Heather, the Totality, has a rare effortlessness and command of the mechanics of fiction ...has a fable-like clarity and economy, but also the unsettling psychological penetration one would find in James, Patricia Highsmith, or Graham Greene, one of the late 19th- or 20th-century masters of cognitive vivisection ...the novel’s mood shifts and bends; it modulates into notes that are pensive, melancholy, often stringent, occasionally warm; and its ending manages to be at once harrowing and disturbingly contemplative ...spare, almost skeletal; there’s almost no dialogue, and very little visual description, two things one might expect from a seasoned television writer. Instead, there is a relentless interiority, a patient strobing of first one person’s consciousness, and then the next ...an unqualified success.