The artifice of fiction is ventilated with memoiristic candor ... The narrative subterfuge of its first half gradually coalesces into a knotty memory book that’s less about Miles the person and more about Miles the talisman that unlocks Cooper’s artistic compulsions ... Simultaneously concentric and telescopic, a metaphysical wheel that spindles across time while always orbiting the question of whether Cooper’s love for Miles was ever requited. The answer to that riddle will intrigue Cooper’s longtime readers more than newcomers to his work ... For readers not already seduced by the Miles of the cycle, the new novel’s style will likely fog any deeper understanding of him as a flesh-and-blood person. That’s to be expected. Muses are indecipherable by nature ... The novel abounds in...internal echoes. For the reader the effect is occasionally disorienting, with the seemingly disconnected vignettes evoking the messy tectonics of memory itself.
A tightly wound yet nakedly inquisitive novel about a man seeking to understand how he came to understand his past in a way that has tended to motivate him his entire life ... Cooper bends boundaries of fiction and nonfiction throughout, but ultimately gives this work firm footing in realms of fiction ... Bizarre as it sounds, I Wished is a poignant and haunting elegy to a figure that has loomed large in Cooper's imagination since dying by suicide at age 30. The phantasmagorical qualities make every page a thrilling revelation, even for readers unfamiliar with the George Miles cycle of books. It is a beautiful, maddening riddle about love and what is set adrift in its wake.
An elegy for a friend, lover, and muse that resists conventions of storytelling and expands the possibilities of the novel form with daring and vulnerability ... Though the book’s emotional register can seem, at times, to be stuck in a rut of despair, its fragmentary structure allows for a range of emotional valences, ranging between grief and celebration, anger and love. Cooper’s urgency to relate his friend’s story is felt in every word, image, and narrative move; even the most oddball structural decisions possess tremendous power ... Spare but powerfully wrought, this is a book that pushes the novel’s capacity to capture grief, love, and truth.