... Meijer strips away the masked murderers and demons to return horror to its foundation—two characters intertwined by their desires, written to its surreal and, at times, deadly conclusion ... Meijer’s short stories operate under an atmosphere of threat, her close-to-the-bone writing style crafting a sparsity from which its most unsettling aspects emerge. Like the quiet, dread-filled tracking shot which proceeds a film’s jump scare, readers are willed to lean forward into fragmentary passages in order to parse every image. Precise in her language, Meijer lingers on depictions of the body, oftentimes at its most uncomfortable, yet the rest of the world remains shrouded ... Meijer carefully balances elements of tenderness and danger, creating a tone that tempts readers to imagine the potential for connection while anticipating the ever-ominous possibility of calamity ... proves itself to be a delicate balancing act between classic and reenvisioned horror. The collection maintains a precise attention to pace while removing the tropes that would prematurely tag itself as horror. While it is at times gruesome and shocking, it forgoes gratuitous gore. Meijer tilts the axis of her world ever so slightly, turning the familiar into the unsettling, characters into monsters, and genuine expressions of love into pain. The collection’s most unnerving moments, then, are those that most closely parallel the human while severing its humanness, creating a dark portrait of the recognizable and destructive desire for empathy. While this surreal shift becomes clear with time, the readers who first pick up Rag may find themselves in true shock of the horror that emerges from its beautiful prose and haunting characters.
[Meijer's] stories are fabular, which imbue readers with the expectation of a moral. But like the work of many moralists before her, Meijer’s is emotionally riveting precisely because no lessons or precepts ever come: she fashions her fiction as a photonegative of the world she believes that people should live in, her neighborhood a grimy suburb of empty streets, violent homes, veiled feelings and unrequited obsessions ... undoubtedly one of Meijer’s greatest assets is her ability to animate the ins and outs of the male psyche ... Rag is more claustrophobic than Meijer’s previous books, by far her most brutal, and also her most sophisticated and technically self-conscious. In multiple stories, Meijer tricks her readers into believing male narrators are females. Admirably, she wields her mastery of conventional craft for repetitive, blunt effect, an approach that intentionally suffocates the reader with horrific reality.
... a disturbing, forceful story collection ... sharp, haunting ... [Meijer] writes wonderfully of the trap of the self, with its impossible prisons of circumstance and identity, not to mention the perversity of being buried alive, alone, inside a body ... At times the book delivers more spectacle than impact, and risks projecting a gothic mood untethered to an interpretive framework. But Meijer’s willingness to write fiercely into the abyss deserves respect, and maybe the darkness of the untethering is the point, or at least an accurate depiction of life’s obscenities. Any one of us may know unendurable affliction without the means to comprehend it.