Tom Bissell says
“Peter Orner is a true writers’ writer, which is to say a writer writers complain to writers about readers not reading. His novel The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (a title, one senses, Orner had to fight hard to retain) ranks high among the best works of fiction about Africa ever written by an American, and his collection Esther Stories contains work to rival that of David Means and Tobias Wolff. Orner’s latest collection, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, is bundled into four sections and includes more than fifty pieces of fiction…Imagine Brief Interviews with Hideous Men written by Alice Munro.”
And Booklist says
"Orner is an undisputed master of the short short story."
Monologue topics: feedback, Max Millwood, Gregory Sherl, the show's format, my dullness and incompetence
Kirkus Reviews raves
“Don’t Kiss Me, Hunter’s second short story collection, is a bold, haunting, and beautiful observation of lives lived outside the scope of the mainstream . . . Hunter near-effortlessly captures the hopes, fears, realizations, regrets, and desires of the uglier, more taboo, and misunderstood side of humanity. Though their worlds may be sordid, Hunter manages to infuse her misfits with incredible amounts of empathy and humor. Instead of repulsed, we often find ourselves rooting from the sidelines. And it’s hard not to voraciously ingest all 26 stories in Don’t Kiss Me, given their breakneck pace, raw emotion, and Hunter’s own propensity for language that pops but never fizzles . . . [Don’t Kiss Me] is transgressive without being navel-gazing, confrontational without being aggressive. But above all, it contains a whole lot of Hunter’s bloody, beating heart.”
And Publishers Weekly says
“Overall these stories land with a wet slap—messy and confrontational. They demand your horrified attention, and they reward it with exaggerated and irresistible humanity.”
Monologue topics: voicemail, mail.
The Huffington Post raves
"The problem with post-confessionalism is that its most uninspired iterations have been sprinkled across America for the past quarter-century; that is, the problem with post-confessionalism isn't post-confessionalism, it's post-confessionalists. No longer: Gregory Sherl is the post-confessionalist we've been looking for, which is to say that there's nothing smarmy, self-important, or false about these poems or this poet. Sherl is that rare author who can speak earnestly about the vagaries, pleasures, and discouragements of living and still charm your pants off. You'll enjoy walking around his head a bit, I guarantee."
And Rain Taxi says
"...Sherl has written a book full of love and surprising emotional power."
Monologue topics: facial hair, signifiers, head scarves, hard-won truth, wisdom, messiah complexes, author photos.
The New York Times Book Review raves
"The collecting mania that Susan Orlean has so painstakingly described is, like the orchid, a small thing of grandeur, a passion with a pedigree...Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy for a person you might not have thought about empathetically...The Orchid Thief shows her gifts in full bloom."
And Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, says
"I adored [Rin Tin Tin]. It weaves history, war, show business, humanity, wit, and grace into an incredible story about America, the human-animal bond, and the countless ways we would be lost without dogs by our sides, on our screens, and in our books. This is the story Susan Orlean was born to tell—it's filled with amazing characters, reporting, and writing."
Monologue topics: Episode 200, spreading the word, thank you.
Kate Christensen raves
"With zingy, hilarious glee, Peter Mattei takes a sharp stick and pokes it at many deserving underbellies: the puffery of corporate America; hipsters, yoga dudes, and the general pretentiousness of north Brooklyn; and many more. The Deep Whatsis is a provocative, darkly subversive, deeply satisfying novel."
And Publishers Weekly calls it
"[A] morbidly satiric look at corporate culture at the crossroads of art and consumerism...Mattei serves up a rampant critique of haute New York society."
Monologue topics: screenwriting, when comedy is received as tragedy, film school, humiliation
The New York Times Book Review raves
"Megan Abbott has [written]...The Great American Cheerleading Novel, and—stop scowling—it's spectacular.... Subversive stuff... Heathers meets Fight Club good."
And Entertainment Weekly calls it
"A psychologically astute thriller...Abbott's latest is not only a page-turning mystery—it's also a close look at teen girls' ferocious rivalries and intense bonds."
Monologue topics: mail, feminism, Adelle Waldman, Episode 195.
Lauren Groff, bestselling author of Arcadia, raves
"When It Happens to You is absolutely lovely, a smart, emotionally sophisticated, intricately dovetailed novel of stories. World, I'm telling you now: Molly Ringwald is the real deal."
And Kirkus calls it
"A beautiful exploration of how the heart's irrational responses to love and betrayal can stand in the way of forgiveness... Ringwald deftly weaves together the threads of these stories, creating a tapestry that captures the emotional landscape of both young and well-worn relationships."
Monologue topics: over-thinking things, Sixteen Candles, Anthony Michael Hall, Farmer Ted, near disasters.
Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, says
“A teenager comes of age and grapples with the heavy burdens of family secrets against the backdrop of the 19th Century New England whaling industry in this beautifully written, playful and intricate debut novel. Clark creates evocative descriptions . . . making her images and encounters between people especially vivid.”
And The Millions says
"The Rathbones is the most sui generis debut you’re likely to encounter this year. Think Moby-Dick directed by David Lynch from a screenplay by Gabriel Garcia Marquez…with Charles Addams doing the set design and The Decembrists supplying the chanteys. Clark writes a beautiful prose line, and the story, like the ocean, gets deeper, richer, and stranger the farther out you go.”
Monologue topics: bikes, LA, tourist vans, celebrity sightings, mistakes.