“In the summer of 1991 my mother beat a man to death with a twenty-two ounce Erstwing framing hammer and I fell in love with Tess Wolff,” writes Maksik in the opening lines of his third novel. The story unfolds in scenes and memories and pleas as his narrator, a bipolar man who lives an isolated life in the Pacific Northwest, yearns for Tess to return to him.
Caroline Leavitt (San Francisco Chronicle) is drawn in by the narrative intensity. “Maksik’s writing has the strange, dangerous gleam of madness, as Joe pivots from normality to mental illness, a state of ‘thick tar inching through my body’ along with ‘a blue-black bird, its talons piercing my lungs.’ There’s a rapid-fire intimacy to the novel because Joe talks to us as if he were hunched on a bar stool, grabbing our hands and insisting we listen because he’s barely hanging on and he’s trying to put a narrative to his life.”
David Vann (New York Times Book Review) has quibbles (“Maksik is a good writer. His characters are credible, he excels at evoking the mood of a particular time and place, and there’s an impressive range of material across his three novels. So it’s a shame he has drunk the postmodernist Kool-Aid.”). And praise: “Tess is fiery and strange, her love with Joe described in some very fine moments. And Joe’s shifting relationship with his father is generous and unexpected; Maksik has an expansive and affecting vision of human capacity.”
Rob Cline (Cedar Rapids Gazette) calls Shelter in Place “an exceptional look at the vagaries of bipolar disorder, as well as a powerful consideration of family (both blood and chosen), violence against women (and in response to that violence), and the overwhelming power of love (even when that love comes at a high cost).”