PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan, dexterously tackles the intersection between old technologies and new with a novel that is part love letter to books, part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem ... Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is eminently enjoyable, full of warmth and intelligence. Sloan balances a strong plot with philosophical questions about technology and books and the power both contain. The prose maintains an engaging pace as Clay, Mr. Penumbra and the quirky constellation of people around them try to determine what matters more — the solution to a problem or how that solution is achieved ... this novel would have been even stronger had some of that intrigue and discomfort seeped more deeply into the prose ... Instead, the book suffers from an excess of convenience — for every problem, a clever solution ... Sloan effortlessly marries new ideas with old without realizing that all too often, the cleverness overwhelms the story.
Claire Vaye Watkins
RaveSalon...[a] magnificent debut collection ... There is a great deal of comfort to be found in the stories of Battleborn because they are filled with heart and sorrow, loneliness and longing. There is a quiet wisdom to Watkins’ writing ... Though the stories are dark and suffused with thwarted desires, they also carry hope. No matter how suffocating the circumstances of each story, Watkins finds a way to offer the reader a breath of fresh air, a moment of possibility to hold onto, and it is those moments of possibility that sharpen Battleborn’s beauty.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... charts the course of a marriage through curious, often shimmering fragments of prose ... The novel is, at times, reminiscent of Renata Adler’s Speedboat with a less bitter edge ... moves quickly, but it is also joyously demanding because you will want to keep trying to understand the why of each fragment and how it fits with the others ... Offill is a smart writer with a canny sense of pacing; just when you want to abandon the fragmented puzzle pieces of the novel, she reveals a moment of breathtaking tenderness ... especially engaging when it describes new motherhood ... For better or worse, this is not so much a book about their marriage; it is a book about the wife’s marriage. It would be interesting to read the other story to this marriage, to know more of the husband, the father — but Offill still makes it seem as if the wife’s version of the marriage is story enough and, perhaps, the only story that matters.
RaveHTMLGIANTI ended up reading it one sitting because it was one of those books you literally cannot put down. The stories in this collection are smart and imaginative and strange and fearless in their execution. It is readily evident why this book won the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction. A great deal of care and handling went into these stories ... In each of these stories, Nutting is, above all making beautiful sense of the human condition ... The balance between the unfamiliar and impossible with the familiar is what makes Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls such a great book ... You should definitely check this book out. It will take you places and teach you things.
PanThe New York TimesThe title is misleading. I expected this text to offer a complex and sustained argument about the merits of the novel itself. Instead, much of the book is given over to a biography of Nelle Harper Lee and an extremely detailed history of the making of the 1962 movie. Some light literary analysis is thrown in for good measure. Never does this book take chances or make a persuasive argument for why To Kill a Mockingbird matters to anyone but white people who inexplicably still do not understand the ills of racism, and seemingly need this book to show them the light ... Santopietro has certainly done his homework, and he applies the rigor of his knowledge admirably ... Most of Santopietro’s work is given over to that movie — so much so that I began to wonder if this book was intended to be a cultural history of the adaptation alone... but the author fails to explain how it supports his argument that To Kill a Mockingbird matters... On top of that, the book’s structure is strange. The groundwork for Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Matters is astute, but the intellectual analyses are not, and the book suffers for it.
RaveThe Daily BeastThough the novel’s subject matter is controversial, Tampa is also impeccably written, full of smart cultural observations, and no small amount of wit. Tampa is far bigger than the buzz, and more significant than the catchwords that will inevitably be attached to it … This is a novel about sexual deviance, relentlessness, and desire. It is compelling and disturbing, much like Lolita. Wrongs are committed, and flagrantly, but Nutting commits to her premise without wavering and demands the reader do so, too.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewPicoult knows how to tell an interesting story, and the novel moves briskly. This is a writer who understands her characters inside and out ... Small Great Things
MixedThe GuardianGod Help the Child is the kind of novel where you can feel the magnificence just beyond your reach. The writing and storytelling are utterly compelling, but so much is frustratingly flawed. The story carries the shape of a far grander book, where the characters are more fully explored and there is far more at stake. As the novel stands, the only characters we know with any kind of depth or significance are Bride, Sweetness and, to a lesser extent, Booker. There are several others of whom we learn little when the narrative clearly demands much more ... Yet still, there is that magnificence, burning beneath the surface of every word. The language, shifts in point of view and the audacity of the novel’s premise are overwhelming. Morrison remains an incredibly powerful writer who commands attention no matter the story she is telling. In God Help the Child we have a coming-of-age story for an adult woman in arrested development.