...the whole thing has the air of a modern-day folk tale, rather in the manner of Neil Jordan’s The Dream of a Beast or Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood ... The pointillist brush-strokes with which Weiner fills in the early pages are done with wonderful subtlety and a sharp, dry wit, many instances of which will only register on a second reading – and this is a book that must be read twice ... Weiner knows how to tell a story, and how to twist its tail until it cries out in pain ... Heather, the Totality is horribly coercive; it is also an oblique diagnosis of the sickness at the heart of contemporary America, a nation bloated on liberal middle-class complacency and seething with the rage and paranoia of its neglected ones. Here is Trump-land in all its madness and its pathos. As Tony Soprano would say: whaddaya gonna do?
In the early pages of this fragmented work, readers might assume Weiner’s project will be the mirthful undoing of Mark and Karen Breakstone, who are as insecure as they are spoiled. With the introduction of Robert ‘Bobby’ Klasky, Weiner strips the story of its luxurious gloss … Bobby’s fixation on adolescent Heather is a major source of the novel’s tension; however, Weiner’s seemingly uncomplicated prose is rich with subtext. The language is infused with the Breakstones’ tacit critiques … Weiner seems less interested in the idea of totality as wholeness — readers see only a few years of Heather’s life — but of total eclipse. At times, Heather is impossible to see, caught between Mark’s protective scrutiny and Bobby’s sinister watch, in this dark, intelligent debut.
...Weiner has turned to the form he’s helped speed toward redundancy, for his latest project, Heather, the Totality ...a brisk, undemanding read, with alternating sections on the family (rich, tame) and the Worker (poor, psychopathic) creating an efficient mechanism of suspense ...the book also seems seriously at odds with itself, in all kinds of ways ... Despite this expository abundance, the characters remain oddly vague ... There’s almost no showing in the entire book; little real-time action or direct speech. You keep waiting for a fully imagined scene with the kind of immersive detail that persuades you of the reality... It holds your attention, but it doesn’t leave you with much.