The template is a classic: Boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy loses girl. But the delivery — a series of intimate, offbeat, often hilarious musings on a relationship, from first blush to post-breakup drinks — is a highly entertaining surprise. At first glance, the text looks like prose poetry: well-spaced, economical paragraphs of two or three lines. But the format belies the potency of the writing. This is not an airy ode; the hard truths of love and loss are boiled down here. If the novel were a sauce, it would be a reduction ... Hourglass suffers for its sometimes mawkish language, places where Goddard reaches for earnestness but sounds insincere, or just immature ... Still, the charms of Hourglass, like those of the narrator himself, are insidious. This is a sad book that is somehow wickedly fun to read.
Keiran Goddard has written something like the universal love story ... No pain is unique, and all pain is unique. This is the paradox that powers Hourglass. I have rarely read a book that captures so succinctly the way that all lovers must (at least a little bit) believe they are the only people to ever feel this feeling, and the way that that is (at least a little bit) true ... The world of Goddard’s novel exists vividly on the page and yet to the narrator he is the only real person in it ... Hourglass sits somewhere between prose and poetry.
Exquisite ... The voice of the narrator is unique – here is a man who articulates his experience of the world with imaginative flair and a dark wit. He skates close to the danger zone of sentimentality before, each time, subverting the romance with stark reality ... It is the poet’s eye for observation, and precise prose, that elevates this stream of consciousness to something very particular, intimate and purposeful ... It is remarkable to read a love story so universal that still articulates something illuminating about love itself. Goddard has found new ways to express the achingly familiar without ever recycling cliched representations ... Goddard has hit a nerve with this devastatingly funny, intimate portrait of a modern man in a contemporary love story. If ever a book could be read as a pilgrimage to discover what the heart finds sacred, this is it.