PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Just when you think Heti has been too cute, or one of her many exclamation marks too archly faux‑kitsch, she will come back with something arresting like this: \'Let my breasts not satisfy you then. Let my cunt bore you completely, so that even all the other cunts in the world can\'t distract you from the boredom that comes over you when you think of mine.\' The project of this novel, it seems, is not to be beautiful, or even liked, but to challenge the idea that art should have these effects. Art, it suggests, can be humiliating, banal, low. This novel, which includes not just real people but their emails and transcribed conversations, and dangles itself precariously somewhere between \'real life\' and \'art\' is, in the end, a meditation on ugliness rather than beauty, and reality rather than fiction.
MixedThe New York Times Sunday Book Review\"Sarah Waters is an excellent, evocative writer, and this is an incredibly gripping and readable novel. But to some extent her skill works against her. The Ayreses are such lovingly depicted and realistic characters that it becomes hard to accept their gothic fates … If death is a harsh sentence for all but the flattest fictional characters, then one is left with the uncomfortable sense that the Ayreses have been needlessly murdered by progress and social change, which doesn’t feel quite right either.\
RaveThe GuardianKevin Barry is a great storyteller, and the twists and turns of City of Bohane are satisfying, if, in places, familiar (all gangland narratives seem compelled to have the same dreary combination of over-sentimentality and violence). But as Ol' Boy Mannion says at one point, ‘Bohane City don't always gots to be a gang-fight story. We can give 'em a good aul tangle o' romance an' all, y'check me?’ And romance there is. Fashion, too … Barry's vernacular, like his plot, is a wonderful blend of past, present and imagined future. He doesn't overdo it. His characters all have different voices, and his free indirect style changes as it moves across the city. Sometimes the words are doing backflips and spinning on their heads. Sometimes they are just watching.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe Mirror Thief is, it turns out, essentially a book about hermeneutics and disappointment. It’s a book about reading, specifically depth reading, to a point of inexplicable transcendence. What does one find in the depths? Nothing? Everything? A bit of both? The book — in the end long, frustrating and slow — becomes a mirror, perhaps inscribed, as are several mirrors in this text, with the words 'this is the face of god you see.' But what that actually means is anyone’s guess. Its main lesson, that 'the reader, not the poet, is the alchemist,' is a hard one to apply. Ten, nine, eight pages from the end, one still hopes, but this book does not contain any of the answers offered by The Secret History of the World. It doesn’t even supply the answers to most of its own questions. This is not The Da Vinci Code for intellectuals. It’s more like Howl translated into Latin and then back again. Over 600 pages. It’s amazing...How this book got published is a complete mystery to me. Not because it is not good enough, but rather because it is too good.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt has taken Link 10 years to produce her new story collection, Get in Trouble, and it is just as brilliant as her last ... Link’s stories are etchings rather than political cartoons. The nonrealist details in her worlds — the ghosts and celebrities and unicorns — are not supposed to be exaggerations of our world, or criticisms of it. They are simply supposed to be the small stuff of these worlds, in which her characters struggle with love and conflict and, just like Carver’s characters, experience their small, genuine epiphanies.
PositiveThe GuardianIf this novel proves anything, it is that despair makes the best art (or, at least, entertainment) when it is undignified: when it is raw and weird and hilarious. Some of the most squirmingly pleasurable time in this book is spent with Veblen’s mother, Melanie C Duffy, a comic creation worthy of Dickens.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewIn creating an alternative universe with an afterlife but no God, and a 'script' (and 'counterscript') but no writer, Mitchell has combined the least satisfying aspects of genre and literary fiction...Mitchell is as compulsive as ever, and even if you end up flinging his latest at the wall, you will have a good time first. Just don’t expect it to make any sense.