PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewGemlike ... Did her growing disillusionment with the Communist Party put her at risk, or did she flee for personal or professional reasons? It’s a tantalizing thread that reaches a somewhat muted conclusion. But Meadows is less interested in mystery and resolution than in the enigmatic force that drives the gymnast ... This is a familiar narrative for elite athletes and for the novels that explore their world. Winterland is no exception, moving us through all the well-worn tropes (the perilous injury, the punishing coach). But these tropes still have the power to feel both eternal and grand, as they do here. Though it covers 25 years, three continents, the collapse of the Soviet Union and myriad changes in the sport and in the world, Winterland is a novel of intimacies in small spaces ... With every cracking bone and snapped ligament, we long for Anya’s success even as it imperils her. We long for her rescue even as we both know that success means buying only a little more time before the end.
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewEarly in Magpie, a twist comes that made me gasp out loud. And it’s the kind of twist that makes you re-evaluate everything you’ve read before ... We watch Marisa, Jake and Kate make choices that strain credibility or at least consistency of character. But realism isn’t the point. It’s not about how things are but how they feel — and the deeper truths that can be mined within that feeling ... The near-constant fever pitch of the narrative matches how it feels to be suffering through pregnancy anxiety, fears of romantic betrayal, in-law strife, body horror. And the spiraling energy at the center of the novel captures the way fertility struggles can serve as a tripwire, upturning everything else in one’s life ... The dilemma with such novels, however, is that once you’ve raised the pitch that high, once all bets are off and narrators have shown their inevitable unreliability, how do you bring it home in a satisfying way? ... Day opts for a third act that is more grounded, even conciliatory. Loose ends are tied and problematic characters exiled. At first, it feels like a deflation: a grand opera culminating in a needle scratch. But we can’t forget what’s come before and Day lets it hang over the novel’s final moments like a creeping shadow.
RaveSalonBeginning with an opening set piece of classroom masturbation of gymnastic proportions, the novel’s perpetual focus is Celeste’s rapacious hunger … Tampa’s graphic sex scenes expertly skirt their status as “molestation episodes.” Presumably, this is because we are bound to Celeste’s point of view and she herself does not traffic in such concerns … What is the taboo?...it does not seem to be a queasiness over female sexual explicitness. Or even bald female sexual hunger. Instead, it’s female sexual compulsion that seems to so unnerve readers. Celeste’s every act is ruled by her sexual drive, for which she feels no shame or guilt, only a desire to repeat it. Nothing can stop her and she has no desire to stop herself. At heart, compulsive behavior among women feels more troubling, more alien.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleThrough Celeste's eyes, no one except her young targets, particularly the inexperienced and sensitive Jack Patrick, is quite human, nor does the world hold much beauty, except when she finds herself in the throes of her perversions. Her sociopathic view of the world is a flat, bleak rendering where people more closely resemble machines and where their feelings are inconvenient, if they are detected at all … Tampa is erotic fiction: With Celeste at the narrative helm, we are brought quickly and irretrievably into her singular, compulsive and insatiable mind-set. We watch through parted fingers as she uses her looks as a weapon to both mollify her targets and shield herself from punishment. In this sly and salacious work, Nutting forces us to take a long, unflinching look at a deeply disturbed mind, and more significantly, at society's often troubling relationship with female beauty.
RaveThe Barnes & Noble Review...[a] magisterial biography ... Franklin ably captures the intoxicating and brainy energy of the early years of their relationship ... Thanks to the participation of all of the children, Franklin brings to vivid life the chaotic and lively Jackson-Hyman household ... Rare is the author biography that so thoroughly explores and illuminates the subject’s writing itself. Franklin offers inspired discussion of every novel, both memoirs, and many of the major stories.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewThe risk melodrama always runs is that it becomes solely an exercise in narrative coincidence and extremity, a heaping on of fluke and fortuity and the fickle finger of fate. And for long stretches that feels like the core problem with I Met Someone.