The Unfinished World and Other StoriesAmber Sparks
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewSparks has no fidelity to realism; she plays with both fantasy and form. No one story sounds like another, yet her singular voice floats through the collection, tying it together with opulent prose that draws heavily on history and the macabre.
Walk Through WallsMarina Abramovic
MixedThe New RepublicThe book itself has the veneer of an ambitious performance piece, as Abramović exposes her deepest personal wounds and places them next to her artistic triumphs, in order to create a kind of epic mythology around her work ... both dramatic and deeply controlled, an act of naked exposure and also a narrative that is at times a bit too fascinated with the dazzle of high art. And there are moments in the book, just as there are in her more dangerous performances, when everything goes off the rails ... This [warrior] Marina is the most charming one, the voice that makes Walk Through Walls propulsively readable...It is also only present in one part of the book ... when Abramović confuses the Bullshit for the Spiritual, trouble is never far.
300 ArgumentsSarah Manguso
PositiveThe New RepublicManguso ties her eccentricities to brief statements that are intended to outlive her. Her book is only 90 pages long, and can be digested in a single sitting, but it also beckons the reader to return, to read a sentence, and put it down again ... These statements feel like they have maybe always existed; like they came from an oracle. What makes Manguso’s book feel so surprising, however, is that she quickly veers away from these more decisive observations into idiosyncratic personal memories ... If there is any point at which I bristle at Manguso’s lifelong enthusiasm with being brief, it is that she regularly equates excess with vulgarity...There is a romance in this—the perfect book, with no gristle on it—but also it implies that there is something obscene about writers who choose to give in to their hunger and go long on a subject ... Manguso’s need to write short has sharpened her lines into diamonds, but it has also driven her slightly mad, and it has caused her to perseverate over words to the detriment of her happiness and, as she admits, her health. These arguments are forged out of hard work and sustained effort, and also out of pain. It is impossible to read them without feeling for her; for what it took to write on such a tight leash.
The Night CircusErin Morgenstern
PanNPR...Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, the story of two young magicians pitted against each other in an intricate, mysterious and lifelong competition ... Morgenstern is both a writer and a visual artist, and the world of The Night Circus is elaborately designed, fantastically imagined and instantly intoxicating — as if the reader had downed a glass of absinthe and leapt into a hallucination ... Having never published a single word before Doubleday scooped up her book, Morgenstern is living the kind of scrappy success story that adds mystique to an already hyped project ... As Morgenstern's sometimes exhilarating high-wire act comes to its close, The Night Circus almost evaporates, as if fading into the nocturnal haze with the flashbulbs and tents.