The Subversive Brilliance of A LITTLE LIFE

The New Yorker

by Jon Michaud

One of the few recent novels that’s comparable to “A Little Life” in this respect is Merritt Tierce’s “Love Me Back,” a fierce book about a self-destructive Texas waitress who cuts and burns herself, abuses drugs, and submits herself to debasing sexual encounters. But that novel, at a mere two hundred pages, is a slim silver dagger, not the broadsword that Yanagihara wields. And unlike Tierce’s book, in which there is little reprieve for the reader, Yanagihara balances the chapters about Jude’s suffering with extended sections portraying his friendships and his successful career as a corporate litigator. [continue]