A capacious container for our space-related concerns ... Part of the pleasure of reading Terrace Story is figuring out how its peculiar architecture works ... There’s both something old-fashioned about these flicks of the magic-realist wand...and something distinctly of our moment ... Leichter is interested in the bewitched space of narrative itself. The fable, with tidy generic conventions but stretchy moral lessons, performs a kind of magic on the novel, giving a slim work legend-like scope ... Leichter doesn’t moralize about her craft, but her book ventures a compelling case for it: for all of us who lack superpowers, storytelling may be the surest way to grasp the elastic dimensions of life.
About family, love, loss—it’s pretty gutting throughout—but what gives it presence is the forgone conclusion that it’s all gonna be over soon ... What stands out for me about this section—this novel, really—is how well it depicts joy. Small moments—fleeting and sad in retrospect for the unhappiness they precede—but all the same: wow. It’s a lot easier to write about despair than joy ... So much of this novel—most every sentence—is freighted with subtext and implication. If you rush, you will miss all the wordplay and ideation happening throughout ... Mostly I found both the work and the novel’s perseverating on theme enjoyable—at once claustrophobic and performative as a result.
Poignant and concise ... This story does not so much unfold as expand, mushrooming beyond linear time and space to encompass not just what happens, but everything else that could have, too ... Leichter delicately stretches...longing across all four sections, not just as the impetus for space-time expansion, but as space itself, cavernous and protracted, intoxicating but desperately lonely.
Everything connects in this gentle puzzle-box of a book, but to explain more would be to set sail in a sea of spoilers ... Deeply influenced by the shape and feel of the classic fairy tale, shimmering with the kind of simple language and visceral imagery of a Grimm yarn ... It is in Leichter’s careful treatment of these motifs that the book takes on fresh and vital significance. More than the plot twists or mid-novel disclosures that propel the book forward — twists that more-savvy readers might predict (I did not) — the pleasure of Terrace Story is in the telling, in occupying space with these characters, their moods, their pains and joys.
Leichter creates an insular, sometimes claustrophobic world only to stretch it, delicately, until it becomes seemingly limitless ... While Terrace Story is unafraid of realism and the discomfort of its relationships, this is still a Leichter novel: inserted into the second section of the book is a story-within-a-story ... Leichter understands the importance of incidental pleasure. What’s more, she, like the deepest surrealist authors, knows that supporting incidental pleasure is a rigorous task ... The pleasure and heartbreak of reading Leichter’s work: the knowledge that sometimes stories have no beginning or end.
As a short story, 'Terrace Story' works because of its shock factor — and because it gives readers ample agency to decide each character’s fate according to how much sympathy we feel the characters deserve. But what was left up to our imagination (and conscience)...is fully explored in Terrace Story the novel. The result is both delightful and a little befuddling ... In contrast to these zippy first and third pieces that dovetail nicely together, the second and fourth sections feel slightly untethered ... Still, with its overlapping characters and quirky (presumably intentional) plot hiccups, Terrace Story is an impressive literary feat.
Strange and wondrous ... Part of me wishes that Ms. Leichter had not worried about trying to account for her fictional multiverse ... About dread and loss and the frustrations of finitude, yet its tone is comic and buoyant, almost obstinately optimistic. Ms. Leichter delights in banter and inside jokes, and she finds absurdity, even when it has a dark, Kafkaesque flavor, unfailingly affecting ... It’s love for the mess of humankind that makes this marvelously motley novel so poignant.
Has some delightful surprises and a real sense of wonder, yet it is laced with sadness and longing. In fact, Stephanie’s grief and loneliness grows architectural, paralleling her abilities to transform the solid world around her ... The magic in Terrace Story is important and drives the story, but the tale Leichter has created transcends it. It is used as a way to explore loneliness and aloneness, want and need, friendship and family, trust and responsibility. This is a wonderful and original novel with so many big and fascinating ideas in a perfectly sized package.
Leichter is juggling plenty of symbolism along with her zingy surrealism-lite and it can be a lot to untangle, but at the book's heart are the relatable grief and terror that go along with love—of our planet, of another—and the threat of losing it ... Leichter bends minds—and physics—to give a light touch to deep grief.