We all share [Daphne's] condition to a degree. How often do we retreat behind our headphones and devices to cut out the world—and what are we missing? How are we rewiring ourselves? Not only is it a sensationally captivating narrative, Daphne makes us look at our habits and calibrate.
The resulting novel is...an elegant meditation on modern-day emotion...interested in the ways we handle the unwieldy welter of emotions that defines human existence ('We’re absolutely pickled in it,' Daphne notes), how we protect ourselves from the pain of others and fail to express our own ... At times, owing in part to Boast’s effortless, ridiculously vivid prose, Daphne’s life feels so intense and archetypal (mythic, even?) that it comes off as a heady literary exercise ... But while the crammed last act neatly provides closure for almost every thread in the book, it’s all so artfully tied off that even the most hard-hearted reader will find Boast’s deep awe of 'what it is to feel' catching.
Boast seems to have captured today’s cultural zeitgeist ... Daphne...toughens up by watching a loop of heart-wrenching videos of global disasters and starving children on the internet. It’s difficult to feel compassion for Daphne’s condition given her brutal coping strategies. However, even the best-laid plans are no match for the heart. Daphne meets and falls in love with Ollie ... Their romance provides the novel’s first opportunity for the reader to empathize with Daphne — love and sex are tricky for all of us ... Her plight is universal; risk losing control over one’s own life by embracing human intimacy, or remain in the safe isolation of a hermetically sealed existence.
... wonderful ... Though her journey is clearly a metaphor for the hazards of feeling overmuch, especially falling in love, in this fraught life, it also easily stands on its own as a lovely, funny, melancholy modern love story.
In his stunning first novel, Boast (Epilogue, 2014) turns the myth of Daphne and Apollo into a modern love story about social anxiety and physical debilitation ... Sharply observant, both of the limits of human longing and of the fear of feeling trapped inside one’s body, Boast’s understated tale is at once tragic and enchanting.
Psychology and myth twist into each other in this debut novel about vulnerability and fear ... Boast’s story is rooted in myth. But it’s his perceptive take on the risks of emotion that the reader will remember.
Though the romance plot prunes the novel into a restricted shape, and late revelations about the heroine’s father offer too-pat explanations for some of her experiences, memoirist Boast (Epilogue) precisely depicts Daphne’s emotional states, with brief, sensorily rich passages when she is on the brink of overload, and more relaxed, mundane ones when she is comfortably at her computer or engaging in less charged relationships ... The novel offers a striking metaphor for the ways emotion is experienced in the body.