One of the most striking aspects of this extraordinary book is how well we get to know the narrator – whose brain and body we inhabit – yet how little we know about her. We don’t even learn her name ... What Bennett aims at is nothing short of a re-enchantment of the world. Everyday objects take on a luminous, almost numinous, quality ... This is a truly stunning debut, beautifully written and profoundly witty.
Bennett contorts language into new configurations, twisted such that each piece in the collection brings the reader to face a literary frontier and a singular character. Fractured, voice-driven, and prone to modernistic meanderings, Pond is the sort of avant-garde opus destined to put its author on the map alongside modern-day prose stylists of the highest order ... The tilt of Bennett’s pen (or the stroke of her key) lends gravity to anything it touches ... Bennett’s stateside debut refuses to stoop, to explain, to tempt its reader with superficial ploys. This collection is for wiseasses and weirdos, a cathedral of strange sentences and unfocused meditations built upon the singular experience of being a human being. It contains only sharp observations and a constant juggling between beauty and decay, moments stretched and skewed like leaded glass ... Let us hope there are some lights that flicker but never go out, and that Americans — like the British and the Irish — are willing to grope through the darkness and oddity of this gorgeous book.
There’s little in the way of conventional plot. But Ms. Bennett has a voice that leans over the bar and plucks a button off your shirt. It delivers the sensations of Edna O’Brien’s rural Irish world by way of Harold Pinter’s clipped dictums ... You swim through this novel as you do through a lake in midsummer, pushing through both warm eddies and the occasional surprisingly chilly draft from below ... Sometimes first novels like Pond are one-offs. They deliver a voice the author can’t tap again. Ms. Bennett’s sensibility here feels like the tip of a deep iceberg, and I’ll be in line to read whatever she publishes next.