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Reviews / Interviews


REVIEWS / Pity the Beast 



KWNK 97.7 FM Reno / A Writers World with Shawn Griffin

The Herd Out West, Listening to the Women in Robin McLean's Pity the Beast

October 12, 2021


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REVIEWS / Reptile House

PARIS REVIEW Best of 2015 List "McLean does not shrink the world down to interpersonal conflict, but instead opens it up to achieve a cosmic perspective that somehow feels both dispassionate and compassionate (Chekhov’s trick). This opening up is wild, surprising, and not a little frightening. I suppose you could call these stories dark, but in their dazzling perspective I find them full of vitality and wonder."

Nathan Goldman, THE KENYON REVIEW "...an approving comparison to Flannery O’Connor is warranted...Her prose is energetic and lyrical without excising ugliness... which it folds into its world with an elegance that astounds. This skill with language makes possible the stories’ portraits of human beings, so revealing in their unsentimental bleakness, and it is in this unique style that the worldhood of Reptile House emerges."

CUT OFF THE COVER & READ IT / Fiction Writers Review by Alden Jones. "Robin McLean’s Reptile House...is a book that provokes. Reptile House provokes for its style—both the attention to style and its resistance to a uniformity of style—and it provokes, most readily, for its subject matter. Bad things happen to some of the people in these stories, often at the hands of other people. In an era of television series like “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards,” shows we love to watch because it is somehow so entertaining to watch people act unmentionably toward each other, how do we explore the motives of cruelty in a way that speaks to our actual reality? Robin McLean has, it seems, written these stories to find out....Reptile House is not a book that provides all the answers. Much like the work of Flannery O’Connor or Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, the stories in Reptile House show you what happened; you, the reader, must reconcile the “darkness” of the stories with the big-hearted, big-picture worldview of the author who wrote them."

Book Review / Colorado Review/ Center for Literary Publishing by Jeremy Griffin "...a dazzling debut that signals the arrival of one of fiction’s most compelling new voices." READ MORE

Book Review / The Common Onlineby Chantal Corcoran “'Unnatural, unprecedented, as far as we know'...could just as well be describing this collection." READ MORE

Book Review / Kirkus Reviews "McLean has a knack for stunning sentences that resonate with her characters’ circumstances....The third-person narrators frequently zoom out, locating the present moment within a cosmic frame. The effect is tragicomic...McLean stages yearning and stasis with poignancy and wit.." READ MORE

Book review / Publishers Weekly "McLean’s debut collection of short stories moves seamlessly from adultery to kidnapping, from assassination plots to extreme geothermal events, all in a voice that is spare and darkly poetic. READ MORE.

Book review / AMRI by Megan Turner "...In fact, upon investigating further, one might start to see oneself hidden beneath these stories, among their obscurity and violence." READ MORE.

Story366 Book /Story review by Michael Czyzniejewski ". “Overall, I enjoyed how eclectic this collection comes off, how different Robin McLean is able to make each story, yet how in-depth each world feels, how intimately we get to know each of her protagonists. There’s real vision here, unique and strong, work that I enjoyed and admire.”

THE DRUNKEN BOAT 21: What I'm reading now by Hilary Plum " " I’ve read a few of Robin’s stories through the years, and increasingly it’s clear that her voice is quite distinct, a bold and funny and unyielding approach to storytelling."


ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS/ Former Alaskan Robin McLean Wins National Writing Award and Praise for "Reptile House", by Mike Dunham. July 25, 2015.

"The Sentence Must Sound Right"" Mud Season Review Vol. 2, print, May 2016 by Rebecca Starks.

New Hampshire Public Radio Interview / The Bookshelf with Peter Beillo READ or LISTEN

CUT OFF THE COVER & READ IT / Fiction Writers Review by Alden Jones." Reptile House...is a book that provokes." READ MORE

Interview in the NASHVILLE REVIEW by Michael Carolan