Brightfellow flirts with childish eroticism and terrible violence, yet in it Ducornet follows Lewis Carroll and Jorge Luis Borges, more than her sometime-precursors Vladimir Nabokov or the Marquis de Sade ... Ducornet’s is a world of surfaces so rich and textured that notions of meaning and interpretation are subsumed under a lush and seductive prose that eventually inhabits readers minds ... Its celebration of the texture and contours of storytelling, of the unruly expansiveness of language, and of the relative ease with which the borders of the world are permeated by fabulation offers a rebuke to a kind of fiction in which the imagination is increasingly constricted.
...[a] dark, elliptical fairy tale of a novel ... More for fans of atmosphere than fans of plot, Ms. Ducornet’s novel about a man who 'cannot fathom the bottomless secret of his own existence' casts a lingering spell.
...summary doesn’t get at the emotional tension that suffuses this novel, or the carefully modulated tensions that run between the book’s major characters ... fundamentally, this is an atmospheric glimpse into an unconventional, damaged life ... Brightfellow travels into an offbeat mind, but it’s an enlightening voyage.
If it is emphatically a novel for adults — a deceptively radiant howl of pain — the froth and sparkle of its prose bear the stamp of wonder one recalls from Roald Dahl, from Lewis Carroll, from Shel Silverstein ... Stub and Asthma’s world positively crackles with imaginative élan, even as the dark and unknowable shapes of adulthood fly above them ... Ducornet’s language can veer a little too sharply into the precious and the novel’s climax feels both abrupt and curiously weightless. Still, her ability to navigate that twilight land between youthful fantasy and world-weary adulthood is, alone, worth the cost of admission.
...a brief work that you might read in one sitting; not so much a page-turner as a page-seducer ... It’s over almost before it starts, and before you’re quite sure just who Stub really is, but it casts a hypnotic spell; something about how childhood looks in the mind’s dusty mirror, and how words can form a blanket that keeps us warm.
Brightfellow is one of those novels that never lets you forget you’re reading a novel. Ducornet’s language is highly literary and obviously artificial; Stub’s voice bears no real resemblance to ordinary speech patterns. He is just words on a page, and he seems to know it ... The book is full of ferocious little linguistic jabs like that; you’ll see a word roaming far from its typical linguistic grazing fields, and you’ll stare at it for a while, trying to make sense of it all. Ducornet is a mad maestro of words.