RavePloughsharesLi’s prose is as contained as it is raw when it cannot resolve the question that Agnes keeps stumbling upon: which of these games, these lives and relationships, are real, and is there a difference between \'game-real and life-real\'? In so far as this is a novel about literature, one may say that a real writer is as much an identity as it is a character threatening to organize the lives of people; as a novel about two friends, drawn to each other as much as they are betrayed by each other, the first inscription is what kills and births both realism and reality ... a taut landscape built of all literature’s attachments, manipulations, displacements, anxieties, and escapes. It is the labored breadth of an economy that is resplendently libidinal and compelling—the mark of an experienced writer’s rigorous later work.
PositivePloughsharesSmith artfully crafts another pandemic piece .... Smith’s allusive style of writing extends to other methods of hermeneutics, some questioning the very production of meaning-making ... In moments, Companion Piece, can come across as a little consumed by itself in that very assured (post-post) modernist way. It goes around in circles of self-referentiality and ends with a platitudinal hope—almost as a nod to its own hopeless search for meaning. But, as Sandy says, even a belief can be a companionable thing. Companions, for better or worse, is just something you trust.