Praise for Joshua Kornreich:
“Joshua Kornreich’s CAVANAUGH follows the rollicking downfall of the remarkably unremarkable Cavanaugh and the simultaneous upfall of his alter-ego-cum-nemesis, O’Reilly, after the two men purchase bobblehead dolls of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for their young daughters at a minor league baseball game. The event throws Cavanaugh into a spiral of doubt, inebriation and memory at once hilarious and deeply unsettling. Who is Cavanaugh? Who is O’Reilly? Who is anyone? Only a master of the tragicomic like Kornreich can romp through existential questions with such raucous exuberance. From the moment Cavanaugh’s daughter takes the Kavanaugh bobblehead to show-and-tell, Kornreich steers readers on an absurdly plausible jig that grapples with complex moral questions amidst a fog of bluster and booze. In the spirit of Donleavy’s THE GINGER MAN and Amis’s LUCKY JIM, Kornreich’s anti-hero is a man sinned against, sinning, and befuddled by both sets of transgressions. Cavanaugh may not be Kavanaugh, but CAVANAUGH is Kornreich at the top of his game and the comedic novel at its side-splitting finest.”
—Jacob M. Appel, author of THE LIARS' ASYLUM and EINSTEIN'S BEACH HOUSE
“CAVANAUGH is the most endearingly bizarre satire I’ve read in years, a thrilling case of self-made mistaken identity set off by what might be the least desirable bobblehead doll imaginable. Kornreich’s prose has always been darkly funny and formally surprising, and this is him writing at his best.”
—Matt Bell, author of APPLESEED and IN THE HOUSE UPON THE DIRT BETWEEN THE LAKE AND THE WOODS
"Unique, strange, compelling, and memorable, CAVANAUGH is an instant cult classic."
—M.J. Nicholls, author of CONDEMNED TO CYMRU and TRIMMING ENGLAND
"...who is Cavanaugh? Kornreich's CAVANAUGH draws this question out over the length of its darkly comical, booze-soaked duration, spinning the reader around in circles as we follow Cavanaugh on an anti-heroic adventure that is touching, repulsive, distressing, and hilarious all at once... Kornreich creates his whirling dervish of a narrative through his tight, repetitive, and refreshingly original prose..."
—Litro (Editor's Pick)
“In the author’s defense, it’s been a *long* three years. But is this really enough time and perspective to see something more substantial than the late-show sketch version, a suggestive (re)vision distilled of caricatures and catchphrases? In the case of Kornreich’s CAVANAUGH, the answer is decidedly, disturbingly *Yes*… As Cavanaugh unravels, so does the fabric of (narrative) reality itself. It’s hard to say more without spoiling the uncanny surprises that Kornreich has in store. CAVANAUGH recalls the work of Nathanael West, who was similarly obsessed with the rot beneath the veneer of the American Dream. Like the cheated seduced by an illusory vision of California in West’s THE DAY OF THE LOCUST, Kornreich’s characters have little outside of the scripts they perform in order to survive the desert of the real. CAVANAUGH brings to mind the work contemporaries like Carmen Maria Machado and Nafissa Thompson-Spires, for whom metafiction is serious play. Far from a clever exposure of the mechanisms behind the narrative curtain, Kornreich has a more significant target in mind: the culture obscured by the stories it tells about itself, where the illusion lingers far after the fiction is exposed.”
—Heavy Feather Review (review by Pedro Ponce, author of THE DEVIL AND THE DAIRY PRINCESS, winner of the Don Belton Fiction Prize)
“Joshua Kornreich's novel CAVANAUGH is a mesmerizing and surreal satire.”
“In this rib-tickling courtroom farce by master of anxiety Joshua Kornreich, a man faces the accusations of his childhood plush animals, and they ain’t pretty. SHAKES BEAR IN THE DARK is a whole ’nother kind of toy story.”
—Peter Cherches, author of LIFT YOUR RIGHT ARM and WHISTLER'S MOTHER'S SON
“Well, this was an unexpected delight, a lovely little family story featuring the likes of Harry the Hippo, William Shakesbear and Bucky the One-Eyed Bunny this could easily be the screenplay for the next TOY STORY movie... [SHAKES BEAR IN THE DARK] is a quick read but I found myself chuckling from the first pages. I could easily picture the plush bears in their place in court, pacing back and forth like human lawyers and being all judgy like a judge. Luckily, thanks to Amber and Depp, I know all the intricate workings of a courtroom, and Kornreich has got it all spot on. The ending was well played out too, couldn’t fault it. This was a fabulous book, I had so much fun reading it, and I can only hope that John Grisham picks up this book to see where he has been going wrong all these years. [5 out of 5 stars]”
—Gnome Appreciation Society
“Herein [HORSEBUGGY] lies the tale of the crooked-nosed man—driver of a horse-drawn carriage, and Grace—his rain-soaked, bedraggled fare. Kornreich delivers to us the joy that comes to the lonely when love is found, and the anguish that ensues when love succumbs to suffering and, finally, to loss. And yet, for the crooked-nosed man, physical desire lives on, his unbridled lust to be satisfied only by the surviving object of his love, as reason unravels and he teeters toward lunacy. Told with stunning candor, Kornreich brings us an unforgettable tale of tragedy, exploring the depths of both compassion and depravity. Get ready for the wildest of rides."
—Pamela Ryder, author of PARADISE FIELD and A TENDENCY TO BE GONE
"HORSEBUGGY roars along with comic verve, mythic gusto, and a tender, tangy take on equine affections. Joshua Kornreich's exacting and entrancing prose rhythms provide momentum and delight. Climb up and take the ride."
—Sam Lipsyte, author of THE ASK and HOME LAND, winner of the Believer Book Award
"[HORSEBUGGY] is what CITIZEN KANE would have been if instead of a newspaper magnate it would have given us a character not unlike Lester Ballard from Cormac McCarthy's CHILD OF GOD, and if Rosebud had been an aging horse instead of a sled. A funny, transgressive, and oddly humane novel in which each finely wrought sentence leads you into a place of more desperation."
—Brian Evenson, author of SONG FOR THE UNRAVELING OF THE WORLD, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award
“Joshua Kornreich’s HORSEBUGGY is a dark little surprise and joy, blackly funny in the vein of THE SISTERS BROTHERS. It’s the sort of book where everything leads to its logical conclusion—and nothing is more ridiculous and bleak than human nature allowed to run its course.”
—The Seattle Review of Books
“Hitch a ride on Joshua Kornreich's HORSEBUGGY, a gritty, neigh-saying tour-de-farce splitting between Larry McMurtry-like atmospheres and expert ventriloquizings of Mark Twain's ventriloquisms!”
—John Madera, literary critic and Managing Editor at Big Other
“Kornreich's [HORSEBUGGY] is all talk. Big talk. Small talk. Fast talk. Trash talk. Ten pages in and you might not be sure about who's talking, but you'll listen. You'll listen like your life depended on it. Because you'll want to know. You'll want to know what's going to happen to those horses...Like KNOTTY, KNOTTY, KNOTTY (2014) and THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS (2007), the circuitous language and disturbing characters of Joshua Kornreich's third novel harbor the stuff of nightmares...Kornreich's sentence structure is carefully crafted and distinctly repetitive. His novels might be better described as deformed and deforming language economies. Corrupted economies that mirror the same ones experienced by his corrupt and/or corruptible narrators...The adult characters of HORSEBUGGY often come across as smeared or half-erased persons. Smeared with the shit of childhood, the trauma of following orders. Of being disordered by masculine violence, racism, sexual violence, and the bloodstained fingers of bankers. Yet these poor souls are determined to survive in endlessly ending times. As if gnawing through the walls of a barn, these buggy, horse-drawn bodies want to twist around and chew through whatever they can for nourishment. It's always about survival for Kornreich. It's not all talk. It's a mouthful. It's business as usual."
—Fanzine (review by Paul Cunningham, author of THE HOUSE OF THE TREE OF SORES)
"Joshua Kornreich’s THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS (Marick Press, September 2007) is simply the best debut novel I’ve read during the era of its debut. What is remarkable about this book is not that it is told from the perspective, and in the broken language, of an eight-year-old murderer, nor that its relentless narrative propels us to its illuminating and tragic end like the best of genre mysteries. No. What Kornreich does with unyielding force is build language...Kornreich will try a word and then try another word next to another as his childhood narrator is trying to piece together whom he’s murdered. And while his childhood narrator is trying to remember what he’s done, and why, we learn his language. Actually, what Kornreich does to us is what only Peter Handke has done, in KASPAR (another rendition of another wild child): we are as thrilled by learning his language as we are horrified by the story his language finally tells us."
—Hotel St. George Press (review by Aaron Petrovich, author of THE SESSION and editor at Akashic Books)
"THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS teaches us how to see afresh how sentences look and function on the page, isolating their sparse beauty, floating each in a small sea of white space, making each tentative, always ready to try a new version of itself, making each as obsessive about itself as the unhinged oedipal narrator is about himself, about his universe of childhood secrets, fears, trespasses, violence, voyeurism, a frightening father, an ineffectual mother, a bevy of bullying boys, a houseful of haunting revelations. Tight, clean, spare, this is the real deal."
—Lance Olsen, Pushcart Prize-winning author of MY RED HEAVEN and DREAMLIVES OF DEBRIS
"THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS is a stunning original—a tour-de-force in language as well as a moving story of a shattered childhood. Joshua Kornreich is immensely talented. Keep your eye on this author!"
—Masha Hamilton, author of WHAT CHANGES EVERYTHING and 31 HOURS
"THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS is very much its own creature, and the reader who chooses to follow the story of Kornreich's Boy will not regret the decision. Much of the pleasure in reading THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS does indeed come from the use of the language itself; once adjusted to the rhythm and flow of Kornreich's isolated sentences, the reader may find it difficult to imagine the Boy's story told any other way. Yet beneath his public image as a linguistic trailblazer, Kornreich proves himself to be a fine storyteller: outrageous and bizarre, certainly, but also subtle, perceptive and sensitive enough to win the reader’s heart."
—Meridian (review by Tina Louise Blevins, Pushcart Prize winner, in Issue 20)
"Joshua Kornreich’s characters are oftentimes detectives of the familiar, deconstructing what once passed for the reader’s everyday, in processes just as equally regimented or overlooked. With THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS, Kornreich delivers a mystery unlike any other, in his positioning of sentences outside of the traditional paragraph structure. This gives weight not only to the tale’s eight-year-old narrator, but also a rhythm and pacing that is tense yet playful, wondrous yet unforgiving."
—Heavy Feather Review (review by Jason Teal, author of WE WERE CALLED SPECIMENS: AN ORAL ARCHIVE OF DEITY MARJORIE)
"THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS is one of the most refreshing novels I have read all year. The story of one afternoon in an eight-year-old boy's life is told poetically through the voice of the child. Joshua Kornreich's stream of consciousness style captures the innocence and vulnerability of its subject well, and his spare sentences and paragraphs add to the book's undeniable charm."
"Kornreich is able to solidly get in the head of a young boy and force the reader to see EVERYthing through his eyes. [THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS is] a fascinating work. 5.0 [out of 5.0] stars."
—Emerging Writers Network (review by Dan Wickett, Co-Founder of Dzanc Books)
"In a language all his own, a language driven by stutterance and repetition, Joshua Kornreich evokes and seduces the reader into a boyhood mythography where things are not what they always seem to be...What Kornreich’s boy-narrator is fascinated with most compulsively—the household dustbuster, the backyard tree, the bushes that separate one backyard from another, not to mention the mysterious brown residue that resides at the bottom of the deep end of the family’s backyard pool—is also the source of his most startling revelations. A first novel unlike any other, THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS is a book of lingual daring and domestic disturbance that belongs on the shelf next to Gordon Lish’s PERU, not only for the singular way that it deals with the subject matter of childhood violence, but also for the sheer force and torque of its sentences."
—Peter Markus, author of THE FISH AND THE NOT FISH and WE MAKE MUD
"Kissing kin to Kornreich’s first novel, THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS—a harrowing tale told in spare, stutter-stepping lines, whose accretions build a world even as it destroys it, the eponymic boy a ruin emerging from ruins—KNOTTY, KNOTTY, KNOTTY rejects simple repetitions for Gertrude Steinian insistence, thereby displacing conventional ideas about time and memory. There’s music in these pages—fragments of 'Fly Me to the Moon' and 'Into the Mystic' among the novel’s many riffs—in its charged images and motifs, in the narrator’s infectious, recursive-yet-still-conversational rhythms, however obsessively warped. No mere formal exercise, KNOTTY, KNOTTY, KNOTTY’s linguistic concatenations amuse as much as they frighten, marking Kornreich, like Beckett, Kafka, and Lish before him, as artisan of the sentence and comedian of the bleak."
—John Madera, Editor at Big Other
"Joshua Kornreich impresses with his lyrical and creatively told second novel, KNOTTY, KNOTTY, KNOTTY."
"[In KNOTTY, KNOTTY, KNOTTY] Joshua Kornreich has created the ultimate friction hitch with this novel of sex, death, and subverted affection. Even time is dangerously knotted, unravelable, unsoothed."
—Dawn Raffel, author of CARRYING THE BODY and IN THE YEAR OF LONG DIVISION
"[In KNOTTY, KNOTTY, KNOTTY] Joshua Kornreich writes like an autistic street preacher who is biblically bent on getting his version of the truth told and then retold until his story becomes gospel. His recursive swirl of sentences and pathological way of saying will seduce even the deafest ears into a new kind of listening."
—Peter Markus, author of THE FISH AND THE NOT FISH and WE MAKE MUD
"[THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS] seriously made me feel dirty in a way unlike any book ever...really disconcerting in its aura in a way I can't explain...totally bizarre."
—Blake Butler, author of ALICE KNOTT and 300,000,000
"[THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS] is one of the strangest suspense stories you'll ever read...Is this the stream of consciousness of the boy? Or is it an adult's nightmare of childhood? Or a child's nightmare of adulthood? A unique, compelling page-turner."
—Peter Cherches, author of LIFT YOUR RIGHT ARM and WHISTLER'S MOTHER'S SON
"...[THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS] was fantastic. Rhythmic, spilling, thoughtfully honest."
—J.A. Tyler, author of THE ZOO, A GOING and COLONY COLLAPSE
Joshua Kornreich's HORSEBUGGY selected as a finalist for the 2019 Big Other Book Award for Fiction:
Interview with Authors Guild:
Interview with Heavy Feather Review:
Research Notes on KNOTTY, KNOTTY, KNOTTY at Necessary Fiction:
Fictional film review, "Walt Disney's 101 One-Percenters," at Trop: