PositiveChicago Review of Books... a fecund sensuality reminiscent of Melissa Broder and Ottessa Moshfegh; Greta’s descriptions of private parts in particular can be downright baroque. On the other hand, the writing here can also seem evasive at times, constantly hiding its feelings behind jokes and winky Gen-X references, which might be appropriate for the story of a compulsive liar but can occasionally be exhausting. An aimlessness also takes over the proceedings as the book goes on ... There’s a great concept but not always great plotting behind it. Still, like a good friend, Big Swiss is worth sticking with.
RaveChicago Review of BooksDunn’s prose matches her heroine’s prickly personality well; it’s like a sea anemone that lures you in close enough to touch then stings you for your trouble ... Dunn isn’t as prudish as some writers today. She was also an award-winning boxing journalist, and revels in bodily fluids of all kinds ... There is a performativity to Sally as well, even in her moments of darkest confession, and one feels Dunn’s hand in these passages too ... What’s fascinating about Toad, and perhaps its most skillful quality, is how seamlessly it looks backwards and forwards at once ... We need more women like Sally in the world, and more writers like Dunn to tell their stories. If Toad is indeed the last word we get from the late great author, thank the literary gods she didn’t go quietly.
PositiveChicago Review of BooksThe early pages of the novel are a relentless accumulation of maternal indignities ... Yoder mimics...confessional style while mining these unseemly emotions for more surrealist ends. Refreshingly, she dispenses with any coyness about the premise almost immediately ... Yoder’s prose takes on a deliciously tactile quality when describing Nightbitch’s feral excursions, picking up scents and tracking prey with the same ravenous energy as her character. The experience is presented as a perfectly rational reaction to the world around her, and it’s exhilarating, even cathartic, to watch this woman’s rage take a corporeal form ... Yoder [does not] advocate actually becoming a monster as any sort of solution to the world’s problems, of course, even if such a thing were possible. But we can live vicariously through [her] characters for a while and right now that’s more than enough.
PositiveThe Chicago Review of BooksPlenty of recent books have taken place in the worlds of Silicon Valley and internet start-ups, these insular environments serving as backdrops for social comedy and ominous cautionary tales. Fewer have attempted to actually replicate the infinite toggling required to live in both the real world and the online one, how one self can bleed into the other until it’s unclear which is the \'authentic\' being ... scenes share the same comedic cadence of Ottessa Moshfegh, where the aim is less to make you laugh than bare your teeth, and the joke always feels like it’s partly on you, and this middle section of A Touch of Jen will undoubtedly strain the attention spans of any readers who have grown weary of such affected malaise. But there’s a reason David Cronenberg’s name is given such prominence on the back cover, and those who hang in will be rewarded by the drop in the rollercoaster that’s waiting for them in the book’s final third. As with the director’s oeuvre, particularly his adaptation of The Fly, Morgan’s interest in how our technological obsessions warp our physical selves is expressed in visceral and uncomfortable ways, less something that’s shared with her readers than inflicted upon them. This isn’t a complaint but it might be a warning if you’re especially squeamish. In our Smartphone addicted age, when all of us hold a mad scientist potential in the palm of our hand, when new identities can be grafted instantly onto old skin, are monsters something we make or manifest? For Morgan and her characters, it’s a little bit of both.