[Diski's] reputation as an original, witty and cant-free thinker on the way we live now should be given a significant boost. Her prose is elegant and amused, as if to counter her native melancholia and includes frequent dips into memorable images ... Like the ideal artist Henry James conjured up, on whom nothing is lost, Diski notices everything that comes her way ... She is discerning about serious topics (madness and death) as well as less fraught material, such as fashion ... in truth Diski’s first-person voice is like no other, selectively intimate but not overbearingly egotistic, like, say, Norman Mailer’s. It bears some resemblance to Joan Didion’s, if Didion were less skittish and insistently stylish and generated more warmth. What they have in common is their innate skepticism and the way they ask questions that wouldn’t occur to anyone else ... Suffice it to say that our culture, enmeshed as it is in carefully arranged snapshots of real life, needs Jenny Diski, who, by her own admission, 'never owned a camera, never taken one on holiday.'” It is all but impossible not to warm up to a writer who observes herself so keenly ... I, in turn, wish there were more people around who thought like Diski. The world would be a more generous, less shallow and infinitely more intriguing place.
Jenny Diski...writes a lot about death, and a reader is grateful for her humor. Whereas Galgut’s clarity of vision can seem sometimes almost unworldly, Diski is nothing if not parti pris. Everything in her delicious essays is filtered, unabashedly, through her particularly sharp, uncompromising consciousness ... Diski takes an almost triumphantly dissatisfied, even irascible, approach ... As the anthology shows, though, Diski could make almost anything seem interesting.
... while devoid of encouragement or advice or a style that anyone could imitate, its thirty-three pieces...still impart a strange sense of possibility. They tantalize, in a bleak way, with the suggestion that invention might arise from inertia and depression as much as, or more than, from creativity (whatever that is) or hope ... This volume, which is so impressive for its odd turns and bright torpor, reminds me that walking is actually just falling forward ... Diski dispenses with conventional structures for her reviews, favoring digression above almost all else. A book could be no more than a starting point for her text ... Diski’s prose is quick-witted but not fast-paced. She was less about the bon mot than a cumulative, unfolding, ironic wit—a self-aware, sage pessimism detailed in cool, very long paragraphs. Blocks of unbroken text span pages, each for its own reason, but all contributing to an appealing air of tenacity and excess ... The protoplasmic, chattering, melancholic 'I' of these essays is, of course, the collection’s constant, its true subject. I can commiserate with her on every page even if emulation is out of reach.