RaveThe Guardian (UK)...the poems themselves seem almost designed to keep his readers at arm\'s length. Replete with cash and defiantly frank about the pleasures of spending it, brusquely honest about the compulsive pleasures of sex...his poems tend, as his editor Jonathan Galassi once put it, to be \'uncompromising to the point of cruelty\' ... The shadows of age and mortality that have always lurked around his poems have crept in from the corners, throwing his particular brand of glitter into chilly, too-bright relief, and the ritzy trappings with which he is accustomed to defining and buttressing himself...are no longer enough to fend off the sense of an ending ... It is this pressing awareness of threat that lifts Ooga-Booga from the bitchy, venal, brittlely amusing entity it could so easily and entertainingly have been into the realm of excellence. Seidel\'s unique and compelling mix of unapologetic materialism and unsparing, unsentimental honesty has created a painfully clear-eyed apprehension of the value of life and the horror of its loss.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)If this book demonstrates Donoghue’s range as an author – and it does, in spades – it also shows her circling back to a handful of key concerns. In Akin, she has found a way to consider the subjects of love, freedom and family from a freshly illuminating perspective ... The path of the generational collision is a well-trodden one, but Donoghue dances along it with customary lightness ... Donoghue is far too wise to force them into an unearned happy ending ... If Room forced home truths on us, about parenthood, responsibility and love, Akin deals with similar subject matter more subtly, but in the end just as compellingly; like Noah and Michael, the books are superficially different, but fundamentally connected. This is a quietly moving novel that shows us how little we know one another, but how little, perhaps, we need to know in order to care.
PositiveThe Guardian\"Memories of the Future is a portrait of the artist, certainly, and of New York in the 1970s, which Hustvedt joyously depicts as hot, dirty and cacophonous. But it’s also far more than that. As layered as a millefeuille, as dense and knotted as tapestry, it feels, by the time you reach the final pages, less like a novel and more like an intellectual reckoning; an act of investigation into how, as a woman, it is possible to live well in the world, and enter effectively into the conversation about it.\
RaveThe Guardian\"While imbued with Moss’s characteristic elegance, insight and deep sense of place, [Ghost Wall] packs a bigger punch than her other novels: at just 149 pages, it’s a short, sharp shock of a book that closes around you like a vice as you read it. Her earlier work considered the small dramas of daily lives in expansive, almost languorous detail. This story is tauter and tenser: plot driven, time limited and entirely out of the ordinary ... The real virtue of this novel resides in Moss’s ability to carry us with her: to lead us step by hot and grubby step to a shattering conclusion that in the reading feels not overblown or gratuitous but grotesquely plausible ... Ghost Wall is a burnished gem of a book, brief and brilliant, and with it Moss’s star is firmly in the ascendant.\
PositiveThe Guardian\"But by refusing to hope for the impossible [regarding climate change], Franzen, improbably, manages to produce a volume that feels, if not hopeful, then at least not hopeless ... This is not a collection that wastes time attempting to persuade us of the reality of the climate crisis; frankly, we’re way past that ... But as the pages turn and the feathers pile up, it becomes harder and harder to keep the murres, taikos and storm petrels straight in your head – or, finally, to invest too deeply in the differences. Yet there are essays in which the balance between form, content and voice is perfectly struck, and when you reach one of those, it’s clear that you’re in the presence of a master ... [The title essay is] the work of a writer at the top of his game – limber and lovely, delivering deep insights with delicacy and grace – and it poignantly makes the only case for climate action that has any chance of succeeding: that there is so much worth living for.\
PositiveThe GuardianWith The Reservoir Tapes, which was originally broadcast on Radio 4 as a series of short stories, McGregor has squared the circle. The book returns us to Reservoir 13’s hills and valleys and shifting seasons, but here the collective voice of the novel has fractured. Instead of a broad but shallow composite perspective, the stories, each from the viewpoint of a single character, present a series of narrow but far deeper insights, altering our understanding both of the familiar landscape and the actions of the people moving through it ... a great, slow-moving river whose smooth surface conceals myriad quick, vicious currents beneath, ready to catch at your feet and pull you under ... McGregor appears to be offering a more conventional pass at the crime genre ... [The Reservoir Tapes] is an extension of the formal experimentation that was begun in Reservoir 13; a millefeuille confection of layers of ambiguity and occlusion that conceal even as they promise to reveal.
RaveThe GuardianSedaris’s stories are as funny as ever, but his diary-essays also confront tragedy, politics and depression ... his collections of wry, sidelong diary-essays have sold in their millions around the world, and his regular TV and radio appearances and sell-out reading tours have garnered him legions of fans. Devotees are well acquainted by now with the wider Sedaris clan. His smart, adoring, yarn-spinning mother, who died in 1991; his father, distant and reactionary though softening at the edges as he ages; his clutch of wayward, wise-cracking siblings, against whom he measures himself, and on whom he relies. They’re the animating force behind his writing; the wellspring of his humour, the source of his grace.
PositiveThe GuardianDaisy Johnson’s debut short story collection is set entirely in this flat, saturated country. Through her tales, she taps into that uncanniness and makes it original and gripping. Boundaries shift and slide and myth and folklore seep up from the sodden ground and insinuate their way into her characters’ solid-seeming lives ... At its best, Johnson’s heady broth of folklore, female sexuality and fenland landscape reads like a mix of Graham Swift and Angela Carter. The collection isn’t always at its best, of course; the all-female cast list seemed to feel a little undifferentiated by the end, and there were moments when the language seemed not so much uninflected as flat.
PositiveThe Guardian...Galchen is keen to establish herself as a person whose interests, to date, have been wide-ranging and gender neutral. Her rejection of 'babies, or mothers' formed a significant element of her sense of herself – and she is wryly mortified to discover that the arrival of her own child on the scene has blown that identity out of the water ...as with the whole of this brief, knotty book – its apparent simplicity is itself a construction: a comment on the complexity of finding yourself knocked sideways by the magnitude of an event that is both unique and utterly commonplace ...fragmentary nature of Little Labours perfectly evokes the state of new motherhood, in which moments of reflection are fleeting; bright flashes that are chased away almost as soon as they arrive.