(Full reviews available upon request)
"...I was foggy on what was happening inside me as I read, perhaps because, due to personal experience, I struggle to find anything in myself other than anger when it comes to alcoholics. But when I finished this book, I felt like I’d been day-drinking, happily, in a dark establishment with someone wise and, if not exactly joyful, joyful adjacent. Someone who felt grateful, perhaps, to still be here. Somehow, despite everything Berlin endured and wrestled with, she found gratification inside or between the moments that make up any given day, and she put it on the page for us as an offering, or a reminder, or both."
"...I was captivated by Eileen, and by Eileen. Most women probably relate to her more than they’d want to admit—to her alienation from her body, to her awe of and fascination with beautiful people who move through the world with ease, to the lengths to which she is willing to go in order to feel seen and valued. By the time I got to the line “...I was too impatient to be truly smart” at the bottom of the first page, I thought maybe I’d found a kindred spirit, albeit one who was probably about to do something terrible—I could only hope she had a good reason. The device Moshfegh uses of 74-year-old “Lena,” aka Eileen, narrating for her 24-year-old self reassured me that Eileen was at least going to make it out of the story, so I was able to...relax? No. Get on the ride? Yes."
"The Rings of Saturn transcends. It transcends form and somehow, in doing so, transcends devastation and destruction. This must be the aforementioned 'radiance and resilience of the human spirit' that I could not quite grasp initially. Radiance and resilience live in Sebald’s juxtaposition of erudition and accessibility that is somehow uplifting, inviting, and communal. It is in his effortless shifts of style and genre which, in lesser hands, would seem like grandstanding, but in his feel like a valiant struggle to find the most effective way to reach as many of us as possible. What Sebald does is exquisite, and actually, attempting to define or explain it is unnecessary. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to end with a quote from Mrs. Ashbury, who, in contemplating her ghostly existence, living in her dilapidated ruin of a house, defines our very existence while in conversation with Sebald: “All of us are fantasists, ill-equipped for life...,” she says, “...life is just one great, ongoing, incomprehensible blunder” (pg. 220). How right you are, Mrs. Ashbury. How right you are."
"I had to put down The Babysitter at Rest a few times to take a break from George’s unflinching insight into women who expend so much energy meeting other people’s needs that self-actualization is impossible and any pleasure accidental. But her stories can’t be escaped. They command attention not only because of their delicious absurdity and humor, but because of their insistence that women see themselves in these paradoxically unique and archetypal characters. It turns out this absurdly funny book is a subversive call to arms, a demand that we begin the process of purging the misogynistic nonsense we’ve all internalized so successfully that we’re no longer sure where it stops and we begin. It might be too late, George’s worldview seems to suggest, but it might also be worth a try."
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