MixedNew York Times Book ReviewIt’s hard to take fault with a book that urges everyone, even \'civilians,\' to pick up a pen ... Write For Your Life makes the case for everyday writing in a love song to the private diary, the handwritten letter. As with the corniest ballads, its currency is nostalgia, a rosy view of the past paired with an irrational disdain for the present ... There are arguments to be made about the digital era’s effects on language, but Quindlen clearly fetishizes any time before our own. Write for Your Life views the modern world through a bizarre haze of fear and indignation, sapping Quindlen’s arguments of nuance and alienating readers who are eager to write, but not with quill and parchment ... More moving are the passages where Quindlen eschews argument altogether. Each chapter ends with charming exercises and advice ... Only after so many pages wasted on bygones do we get a sense, practically and emotionally, of what personal writing can actually mean.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review[A] well-intentioned yet ultimately exasperating book that would have been well served by the very thing it resists: clarifying constraints ... While Reich’s work is most relevant to discussions of illness and sexual repression, while his experiences in Vienna and with the F.D.A. shed some light on the power of the state over the masses, Reich simply isn’t speaking to everyone in these pages ... Without this connective tissue, much of Laing’s analysis relies on transitional phrases that quickly sum up the topic at hand in order to move along to the next. But with so many ends to tie, Laing oversimplifies, relying on tongue-in-cheek turns of phrase that are ill suited to the gravity of her subjects ... Laing has simply taken on too much for these 300 pages — too many subjects, too little space or structure within which to consider them. It is particularly disappointing because she is usually so adept at drawing together the subtle vibrations of individual lives and making them hum ... while Laing attempts to assemble the many voices she has marshaled, willing the chorus to sing a hopeful tune, she has so severed the bonds between them that their collective song fails to resonate. It’s as if they each sit, alone, in a room somewhere, waiting for the moment when we will all be free.
MixedThe New York TimesHorrocks is adept at playing with perspective, delving into the minds of puzzling, sometimes troubling, characters. The loss feels greater, then, when her intriguing premises sap her characters of interiority and her stories of life ... treads into territory better ceded to Lydia Davis ... The title captures the collection’s breadth, its mixture of the strange and the mundane. One only wishes her stories were a bit stranger, or even more mundane, that Horrocks might dive deep in one direction, as the people of Bounty did, diving into sleep.