"[T]he cool assurance of Martin's voice, and her capacity to say surprising things about ordinary feelings-envy, rage, and despair figure prominently-makes the collection a triumph."
—The New Yorker
"Beautiful, heartbreaking stories."
—New York Times Book Review
"Each piece in this suspenseful and piercingly acute collection traces an artist's struggles for excellence and public acclaim, and how those struggles crosscut with relationships that support and undo art.... Compulsively readable and impressively perceptive, Martin's stories put art's dark compromises in sharp relief."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Martin's prose throughout the book has a cut-glass clarity, a drolly macabre humor, and a feline suppleness of insight, with perspectives ever shifting and characters always surprising you. The various settings-Brooklyn, Rome and especially Martin's native New Orleans-play key roles too, cinching the pleasure to be had from these tales."
"[A] sharp, finely crafted collection.... At once psychologically insightful and playful, Martin here strips away the romantic notions of the artist and satirizes the art world.... [T]hese intriguing stories catch us off guard and startle us with unexpected shifts and turns of the artist's psyche."
—Los Angeles Times Book Review
"What Martin shows us about the way artists behave isn't pretty, but the quiet artistry evident on every page of The Unfinished Novel is nothing less than awe-inspiring."
"An enrapturing and ruthless storyteller, Valerie Martin possesses a predator's ability to mesmerize her prey.... These finely calibrated and bracing stories provide a welcome antidote to the sentimentality and half-baked spirituality that are often draped over art like bunting on a bomb. Martin's tales of betrayal, obsession, connivance and failure put the firepower back into art."
"[Martin's] writing is fierce and dead-on, skewering the pretensions and delusions of her characters-artists, writers, dancers, actors-but not without sympathy for their needs, their struggles."
—The New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Martin's diamond-sharp sentences retain their cool even in the heat of battle."
—San Francisco Chronicle