RaveQuill & Quire (CAN)This kind of set-up could easily devolve into a ham-fisted cautionary tale; Happy Hour thankfully refuses lazy cliché. Instead we are simply allowed to revel in the wonderfully directionless ride of Isa and Gala’s good and occasionally bad times, soaking up the book’s carefree tone with each invitation accepted and cocktail consumed ... With so many conversations and so many characters flitting in and out, it can be hard to discern who or what actually matters—which of course is the point. A run-in with a group of writers, editors, and critics is one particularly hilarious diversion, serving more as a scathing takedown of dominant literary culture than a simple random night at a dingy bar ... On the surface, Happy Hour is a deliciously fun fever dream conjured in one of the world’s greatest cities. But it’s also a witty critique of our pervasive cult of ambition ... It might be easy to dislike [the protagonists] if we weren’t so charmed by their approach ... no one would be faulted for reading this wonderful debut as frothy entertainment. But there is so much more here than empty exploits and lavish decadence. There is a hint of darkness that lingers in the corners, a soft whisper that this kind of pleasure is not sustainable, so one should find every opportunity and enjoy it while it lasts ... Under Happy Hour’s glittering surface runs a witty tone of necessary critique, a fun hint of mockery, and the vital celebration of everyday joy
PositiveQuill & Quire (CAN)Like much of Rachel Cusk’s writing, Second Place feels more like a conduit for philosophical and cultural thought than mere storytelling ... What erupts is a taught, discomfiting drama, one that allows ample scaffolding for Cusk to build out keen observations. A long list of enduring topics are tackled with graceful, flowing ease ... Cusk is at her best when she works in diversions, as she does with the deceptive simplicity of Second Place. The novel is skilfully meandering, offering consistent flashes of insight while traversing a great deal of intellectual terrain. The drama is tight and the action straightforward, but when it comes to the beguiling complexity of human nature, the wisdom offered here is significant.
PositiveQuill & Quire (CAN)This meticulously researched book finds its greatest strength in Leduc’s own generous account of being a disabled person (Leduc prefers to use identity-first language) in a world propped up by fairy-tale thinking ... Told in Leduc’s affecting prose, the memoir elements of her book provide further evidence that the pervasive ideas fairy tales promote are not without consequence. Leduc adeptly interrogates the ubiquitous idea that fairy tales are harmless and stresses the pain—however unintentional—caused by the language we use and the way we choose to use it ... it’s the generous vulnerability of Leduc’s own story that illuminates the urgency of this vital message.
RaveToronto Globe and MailIt\'s very difficult to write about Shrill, Lindy West\'s debut essay collection, without being effusive. When you finish the final page, your immediate impulse is to gush at anyone who will listen about how accomplished it is ... With grace and wit, she\'s taken on the ubiquity of rape jokes and fat shaming, and lifted the veil on the abusive tenor of our online conversations. In short, West has become a much-needed beacon of solace and reason in an increasingly vitriolic world ... Some of the book is certainly laugh-out-loud funny, as West writes with her signature irreverence and light conversational tone ... Beyond being hilarious and smart, one of the more compelling aspects of Shrill is West\'s ability to write reflectively on pieces she\'s already put out into the world ... it\'s certainly no exaggeration to say we\'re all very lucky to live in a world where Lindy West exists.
PositiveThe Globe and MailOriginally published in 1980, Basic Black with Pearls is a lauded (if lost) feminist classic that unravels the ennui and desperation of the disregarded woman ... It echoes narratives like Charlotte Perkins Gilman\'s The Yellow Wallpaper, Sylvia Plath\'s The Bell Jar and even Joan Didion\'s Play It As It Lays; its taut prose exploring the roles available to women, tinged with an evolving suggestion of madness made by a uniquely female lot ... Weinzweig is certainly deserving of a new crop of readers this new edition is meant to entice – her brisk style and tone remain fresh to a contemporary audience, and her subject matter is still disturbingly relevant.