"This is a flawlessly executed study of a life that's fully dissolved."
—Los Angeles Times
"Her novel of addiction, of coming close to bottoming out…rings as true as any memoir I've read."
— Russ Harvey, KQED
“In that land where literary characters live, Maxella, the heroine of Saving Angelfish, shares the same space as Alice, of Alice in Wonderland, and Holden Caulfield. But though Max’s neighborhood, like Alice’s and Caulfield’s, is funny and wondrous, her actual street is a far more dangerous and scary place to hang out. In questioning just how much anyone can break free from the past, Matheson’s voice is dead-on, fresh, and completely winning. Michele Matheson is a find.”
—Jim Krusoe, author of Iceland
"Matheson's promising debut, a gritty novel from Tin House Books' New Voice Series, tells the bleak story of a wayward L.A. junkie named Max. Virtually disowned by her dysfunctional parents, out of a job, sickeningly underweight, months behind on rent and unable to kick her debilitating heroin habit, Max flits from day to depressing day in a constant state of decrepitude. When she's not shooting up, she's snorting coke, and when she's not doing that she's thinking about her next fix. Despite her spiraling decline and a number of near-death experiences, nothing really changes for Max throughout her story. Her dealers (Grandpops, her crusty, repulsive landlord; and Carlotta, a beastly legless woman) and fellow junkies (Wolf and a roller-skating waif named Tutu) share Max's single-minded pursuit of getting high. Though initially mesmerizing, the drug-centric plot begins to ware a little thin; the crux of the book can be found in Max's unchanging attitude toward her life: "The goal is not to think-about anything. She winds up places, and that's fine." Nonetheless, Matheson's sharp, highly detailed prose thrusts readers in the driver's seat of an out-of-control life."
"The brutality and purgatorial repetition that is the outer life of a heroin addict conceals a shimmering inner world in Michele Matheson’s debut novel, Saving Angelfish. Luminous language traces a phosphorescent trail through the book’s dark journey."
—Janet Fitch, author of Paint It Black
"Gritty, poignant, funny, achingly dark, Saving Angelfish marks the debut of an impressive new literary talent. Michele Matheson has a keen eye, a ravaged ancient soul and a lyrical voice—a powerful combination that has produced a remarkable book."
—John Lescroart, author of The Hunt Club
"The end of one’s rope is where my favorite literature begins and Saving Angelfish is a strong contributor to that brave, luminous pile. Authentic desperation reeks from every page of this novel, which makes for an arresting reading experience. Humor and tension is all the right places."
—Benjamin Weissman, author of Headless
"Saving Angelfish resonates with the kind of raw power and fearless, unsparing prose that will remind readers of earlier classics of the genre like Requiem for a Dream and The Basketball Diaries. Michele Matheson, God help her, has done the research—and lived to tell the tale. This is a darkly beautiful novel, as seductive and brutal as a smack habit—and just as hard to shake."
—Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight