RaveBookforumThe better the writer, the more unassailable the identity. This makes the identity crisis of Inheritance all the more precarious—and Shapiro’s presentation of it all the more remarkable ... [Shapiro] has an intimate, ruminating style, leaping associatively through time, addressing the reader not as an audience, or voyeur, but more as an interlocutor, thoughtfully answering the questions she thinks someone might ask, if they lived in her head ... a disorderly book. There is panic, neurosis, disorientation ... It’s gory, not contemplative. And it’s wonderfully apt ... Shapiro’s account of her experience with an unexpected result from genetic testing is superﬁcially so much more storylike than her previous stories ... With everything suddenly on the table—to contemplate—and no way to resolve it, Shapiro ﬁnds the subject that allows her to write from the center, raw, as the story unfolds, in the wreckage of immediacy.
RaveBookforumDense, disorienting, disturbing, and sometimes prayer-like, Eisenberg’s stories run roughshod through received ideas of the rules for a \'well-made short story.\' They are filled with nonsequential scenes, enormous time leaps, slippery perspective, capacious unresolved plots and subplots—no limits. Yet like Calvino’s crystal, they are exquisitely formed. Words refract, themes reflect, illuminations and epiphanies bounce furiously ... Stories don’t in principle have the space to unfurl lifetimes, multiple settings, formation and reverberation. Yet Eisenberg’s stories— with their telescoping time lines and surprising associative turns—expand, even in their ellipses ... There is so much living and expression these characters (small and large) bring to the page ... Eisenberg’s rich linguistic spectrum is on full display in this story, from the virtuosic description of the train ride to the brainwashing clinic, through to the total dulling. It is a reminder of how masterfully she moves between registers: heightened description, emotional flurries, and crisp, cutting clarity.
RaveBookForum[My Year of Rest and Relaxation] is not a complicated book, by which I mean it’s not intricately plotted or densely populated. The story, strictly speaking, never leaves the unnamed narrator’s fascinating, twisted, candid, perceptive mind ... It’s really difficult to discuss the extraordinary mechanics of My Year of Rest and Relaxation ... There’s a birth, a rebirth, yes, and it’s a substantial epiphany. But there’s loss too, because important things are lost in time when time is the enemy and obliviousness is the weapon.
RaveBookforumThat word, invention, suits. Carter was a writer before all else, and her primary activity was sitting alone in a room and writing—inventing and, in many respects, reinventing … [Gordon’s] diligence is truly impressive, yet he makes no presumptions, especially about Carter’s process, no interpretive leaps from life to the bizarre art that emanated from it … Gordon, before this known primarily as a book critic, was appointed to his daunting task by Susannah Clapp, executor of Carter’s literary estate...What Gordon doesn’t have—because he didn’t know her, and/or didn’t spend his impressionable years idolizing her, mythologizing her, before coming to this project—is his own story about her, and that may be the implicit brilliance of Clapp’s choice of him for this task, this cornerstone of the cumulative biography to come.
PositiveBookforum...Merkin's ranging, nimble, eloquent intellect in a pitched battle with the albatross ... Puzzles are the cornerstone of Merkin's ars poetica, especially the dangerous thrill of facing one's own puzzles and acknowledging 'their often shadowy solutions.' Merkin's writing is all about rigorous self-reflection...One aspect of This Close to Happy is unmistakably its realistic, non-paradigmatic portrayal of depression. Another is the puzzle of her mother, and the effect that her 'looming shadow' had on Merkin's life and her illness ... Merkin stays true to the dismal reality of chronic depression—but in a warm, articulate, positive-outlook kind of way.