RaveOutsideReading this book in the midst of the pandemic, I found an invaluable companion to this moment, one that expertly describes the ethical choices we now face ... O’Connell is never didactic or heavy-handed. But his book clearly offers an ethical choice to those of us scrolling through memes—\'dank with foreboding,\' as he puts it—in our beds and on our couches. We are how we prepare for the apocalypse, O’Connell suggests
RavePacific StandardEven when Roy writes about topics that may be unfamiliar to American readers, her writing carries clear resonance for anyone worried about the consolidation of authority by governments and corporations; the resulting impact on people, ecosystems, and democracies; and the possibilities and limitations of people\'s resistance movements ... These essays, written over 25 years, are united by Roy\'s unflinching assessment of the violence and inequality around her, and her search for alternatives to the world we\'ve inherited ... Roy\'s prose is precise and elegant. Her attention to detail, to \'specific people\' as well as to forests, rivers, and mountains, is part of a \'specific war\' against slovenly thinking, fudged estimates, manipulative explanations, ill-advised hagiography, and dead ideology ... Roy\'s essays about the environmental and human costs of late-capitalist development read as dispatches from a recent past that will also be our future.
RaveThe Village VoiceIn the new reissue of her 1990 collection, Love That Bunch, Aline Kominsky-Crumb confronts the crazy, ever-shifting expectations of how women are supposed to be—and blows them to smithereens. Her work invites us to ask what kind of life—what kind of freedom—is opened up by a refusal to be a good girl ... she’s a walking contradiction navigating a landscape of gendered double binds—and thus intensely relatable ... The Bunch’s story is an ugly one, in many ways, and Kominsky-Crumb’s selective attention to detail; her expressionistic style, which warps form in the service of emotion; and her willingness to veer into the grotesque convey that ugliness as nothing else could ... Perhaps most powerfully, she rejects the idea that for women, being beautiful and good is a prerequisite to finding—and perhaps even to deserving—love. Kominsky-Crumb not only dares to make herself ugly, she demands love anyway, and she gets it—from her husband and child, and maybe from the sympathetic reader.
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksBrevity, tautness, rigor, surprise: these are the commonly accepted qualities of a good short story, and all are on display in Christine Schutt’s new collection Pure Hollywood ... Widely praised for her craftsmanship, Schutt delivers precise and novel observations ... Her attention to sound and wordcraft isn’t idle aestheticism; as in poetry, it establishes mood and strengthens the sensual to produce in the reader the feeling of ideas or emotions too complex, delicate, or strange to say outright ... Distasteful characters can still engage a reader’s interest and sympathy, but at times Schutt’s linguistic dexterity proves stronger than her characterization.
PositiveThe Village Voice\"Smith writes gracefully and incisively about the range of topics but she seems most engrossed by shapeshifters, boundary-breakers, the ambivalent and the irreverent ... Smith’s ambivalent vision of freedom is attractive because it is generous, aesthetic, and joyfully irresponsible toward a politics of purity. It insists on the primacy of the individual.\
Carmen Maria Machado
RaveBookforumCarmen Maria Machado’s collection Her Body and Other Parties has hit at a particularly potent moment of cultural reckoning over women, sexual violence, and the horror stories women tell — or are told about them ...mixes urban legend, classic horror stories, and tales of the apocalypse, among other genres, to create fictional realities just a shade away from the current madness ... Giving ghostly form to our anxieties about the female body, beauty, lust, and power, Machado’s stories feature women stricken by a plague that makes them fade away into imperceptibility, or haunted by the fat they’d hoped to shed ... Her characters tend to be sexually fluid, nonchalantly attracted to both men and women, and lacking any sense of trauma tied to queer identity. Their encounters are detailed in lush prose that picks up the push-and-pull rhythms of a pleasurable encounter...these stories act as invitations for further imaginings.