Golden State (Kiesling) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The Golden State anchors Daphne’s journey in the visceral and material realities of motherhood…. As Daphne, Alice, and Honey venture across eastern California, a revelation steals upon the reader: cutting ties, packing light, and setting out on one’s own is perhaps a masculine fantasy that we’ve been asked to idealize for too long…. The novel beautifully depicts the golden light of California, the smell of the fescue grasses, the thinness of the air, and the way that Daphne and Honey often feel overwhelmed by the scale of the spaces they find themselves in. The result is less an untroubled analogy between the landscapes of motherhood and the American West than an invitation to think more deeply about how limited our canonical literary imaginings of each have been.
Sarah Blackwood - The New Yorker


Kiesling vividly renders the high desert town, its beauty and its starkness, its juniper-scented air and its neglect, the way it both centers and saps Daphne. Kiesling is also an astute cultural commentator, shedding light on our current political divide and university politics and Orientalism and the barbarism of America past and present while shedding light on parts of California often ignored by news and literature. She reminds us that the Golden State is more complexly storied than we often give it credit for; she also reminds us that for all its stretches of tedium and potential for heartbreak, the state of raising a young child can be pretty golden, too.
Gayle Brandeis - San Francisco Chronicle


Remarkable…. What Kiesling syntactically accomplishes is an exquisite look at the gulf between the narrow repetitive toil of motherhood and the sprawling intelligence of the mother that makes baby care so maddening.… We don’t get to enter a golden state without conflict or boredom. But love can persist despite crappy Skype connections, and wonder can flourish in the interstices between tasks. Mothers of babies, who have forever navigated the interplay between burden and desire, could have shown us this a long time ago if they were invited into literature. At least Daphne’s here now, buckling Honey into her stroller and leading the way.
Heather Abel - Slate


(Starred review) [I]ntimate, culturally perceptive.… Kiesling depicts parenting …with humor and brutal honesty.… But perhaps best of all is her thought-provoking portrait of a pioneer community in decline as anger and obsession fray bonds between neighbors, family, and fellow citizens.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred review) There's so much to love about this novel, it's possible to forgive the frequent use of long, run-on lists, a stylistic choice that becomes a bad habit. Ignore this quirk and focus instead on Daphne's honesty, insight, and efforts to sort out the best path forward. —Christine Perkins, Whatcom Cty. Lib. Syst., Bellingham, WA
Library Journal


[E]ncapsulates the intense and often conflicting feelings of early parenthood: frustration, tenderness, isolation. By playing with punctuation and sentence structure, Kiesling immerses the reader in the fragile headspace of the anxious new mother.… The Golden State sparks the lovely, lonely feelings inside us all.
Booklist


A debut novel about new motherhood and political unrest…. Kiesling is a talented author …with a unique voice. She's very smart, very funny, and wonderfully empathetic. A technically uneven novel from a skilled and promising writer.
Kirkus Reviews

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