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.
PositiveStrange HorizonsFor Egan, the new internet novel is a \'sibling\' to an earlier novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010), whose form somewhat produced the polyphonous, informationally crammed, loosely connected threads that we can, if we try, already associate with the internet ... The demands [The Candy House and A Visit from the Goon Squad] make on the reader—to remember names and relationships between characters, to spot meta-narratives, to make sense of slightly odd forms—are ultimately resolved by the guiding hand of the authorial voice ... For Egan, The Candy House resembles the internet in the same way all literature already resembles the internet: as an amalgamation of stories ... Egan’s timeline is ordered and linear, set consummately in the immediate now. The movement of images and narratives are not dissociative or estranging ... The way Egan uses the internet, either as form or as a mediator in relationships, is in this way dated and a little reactionary ... The Candy House is unlike other so-called internet novels that are actually all about social media ... In this, The Candy House isn’t quite the trendy \'internet novel,\' but neither is it science fiction.