Larissa Pham’s collection boldly reinterprets the memoir-essay genre by accompanying her stories of love with ekphratic commentary on the visual, aural, and verbal language of intimacy.
Though Kono is absorbed with domestic life, she pushes the conventional limits of realism by exposing the ways in which the rules of domesticity are artificial, provisional, or self-imposed.
The novel falters on the promise of its original plotting by resorting to cursorily drawn characters, prose that is often simply convenient or overreaching for poetry, and an unjustifiably cruel world.
The novel’s power, in large part due to its sequencing of events, lies in the sense that the first chapter’s point of jadedness becomes inevitable, a naturally unnatural response to a lifetime of thwarted dreams.
What is most characteristic of this collection is this hunger for interconnectedness, a genuine belief that books are rewritings of other books, that the novel is not so novel.