The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2021
*** Our 2021 Novel of the Year!!!
The characters stumble toward questions about the structures holding them — their bodies, homes, identities — wondering how and where to draw their borders. Sam turns out to be an ideal guide. She’s rash, funny, searching, entirely unpredictable, appalled at her own entitlement and ineffectuality — drawn with a kind of skeptical fondness that recalls a Grace Paley line: “Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.”
The local pleasures of Spiotta’s writing are sharp, and many: Sam recalling the narcotic pleasure of holding her daughter as a baby, her painful longing and loneliness for it now. Or smaller moments: the tug of a fork cutting through cake, say, or the vicious infighting in the Hardcore Hags group. So much contemporary fiction swims about in its own theories; what a pleasure to encounter not just ideas about the thing, but the thing itself — descriptions that irradiate the pleasure centers of the brain, a protagonist so densely, exuberantly imagined, she feels like a visitation.
- from the NY Times review of this book by Parul Sehgal
[ Read the full review ]
*** WATCH a video conversation about this novel
between Dana Spiotta and George Saunders…