RaveThe New YorkerThe Argonauts is a moving exploration of family and love, but it’s also a meditation on the seductions, contradictions, limitations, and beauties of being normal, as a person and as an artist.
You Too Can Have a Body Like MineAlexandra Kleeman
PositiveSlateKleeman reported on 'fruitarians' for n+1 last year, and she’s good at capturing the beatific zeal of the orthorexic. Her genius in A Body Like Mine is to extrapolate new varieties of magical nutrition ... In the book’s final third, A descends into the bowels of the cult, and her story becomes more mechanical as Kleeman goes through the motions of a conspiracy plot ... Much more effectively unsettling are the quietly unhinged antics of B; the bland, blank imperturbability of C; and the phantasmagoric sensory detail that Kleeman imagines ... one of the best books I’ve read about what it feels like to have a body: the mystery of its unseen innards, the ongoing project of its appearance, the meaty fact of its movement through the world.
The Idiot.Elif Batuman
RaveHarper'sA loose, baggy monster, full of irrelevant garbage and needless words — and all the richer for it — the book implicitly makes an argument for what a twenty-first-century novel might be ... In Batuman’s view, integrating the new and the familiar, the personal and the canonical, is precisely what the novel ought to do. But this integration isn’t simply an intellectual process; it’s what happens in all coming-of-age stories ... As idiosyncratic Hungarians continue to materialize, it begins to feel as though Batuman is giving us an object lesson in distinguishing between the tastefully modest craft of fiction and the ungainly ambition of literature ... Batuman is virtuosic in articulating the internal workings of this moment. Her compassion for the agony of those attempting to forge a connection through words is perceptive, intelligent, and funny. In The Idiot, she has heeded the rallying cry she issued in n+1: 'Write long novels, pointless novels. Do not be ashamed to grieve about personal things. Dear young writers, write with dignity, not in guilt. How you write is how you will be read.'”