PositiveThe Portland Mercury[Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine] is made up of 44 very brief stories, which are so unlike most short stories (and even most flash fiction and prose poetry) that trying to pin a genre on them is near impossible. They have a baffling accessibility once you get going, but even the work of Williams' closest writing relatives—Donald Barthelme and Lydia Davis—can't quite prepare you for their strangeness.
Animals Strike Curious PosesElena Passarello
PositiveThe Portland MercuryPacked with an assortment of facts, myths, and unexpected connections, each of the book’s essays is a deeply researched ride that presents an almost staggering amount of information. But the essays are also highly playful, never taking themselves too seriously ... Throughout, Passarello works as a sort of critical ringmaster, announcing both the sideshow act and our short-sighted desire for it. She entertains as she exhibits our missteps, and points to the ways we project onto—and define ourselves in relation to—animals.
300 ArgumentsSarah Manguso
PositiveThe Portland MercuryThough the accumulation of these entries has a certain difficult-to-deny power, the book will almost certainly be divisive. I wanted to gift it to everyone I know, read it aloud to strangers on the bus, and transcribe it by hand in its entirety like a holy text, but other readers might wonder what the point is. The book doesn’t necessarily tell a clear story, and some of its layers will only be apparent to those who have read Manguso’s previous work.
The AnswersCatherine Lacey
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksWhile it rarely has the stunning, labyrinthine sentences of Nobody Is Ever Missing, it directs that energy into an unpredictable, layered plot that will likely take most readers by surprise ... While the forward propulsion of the novel is undeniable, Lacey operates as an essayist as often as she operates as a novelist, seeking to raise questions that can never be answered. And this, of course, is the joke of the book’s title: the answers are not answers at all ... There’s no doubt that this toe dip into genre fiction will be as divisive as Nobody Is Ever Missing’s lyrically driven internal world, but it’s also clear that Lacey didn’t take the toe dip lightly; it’s well thought out and she’s careful not to let it overwhelm the book ... no matter how you categorize them, it seems inevitable that her books will find a larger audience. Her sentences are like reading an iconic prose style before it’s become iconic. Her work’s divisiveness, if anything, will only build her cult appeal.