"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, winner of the Pushcart Prize and Chairman of FC2
"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, literary critic and Editor at Big Other
"[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 In the Year of Long Division and books editor at Reader's Digest
"[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 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, 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
"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
"[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 300,000,000 and columnist at Vice
"[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 Between a Dream and a Cup of Coffee
"...[The Boy Who Killed Caterpillars] was fantastic. Rhythmic, spilling, thoughtfully honest."
--J.A. Tyler, author of The Zoo, a Going and Founder/Publisher at Mud Luscious Press
"Joshua Kornreich impresses with his lyrical and creatively told second novel, Knotty, Knotty, Knotty."