Girls Fall Down

"Helwig uses fear and tension astutely to give her story a sense of urgency, not only in the meta sense of warfare, the worldwide loss of safety and the loss of social collectivity, but in the micro, as the day to day losses and struggles of lonely thirty-somethings prove to be just as urgent. The result is a novel that evokes a strong sense of modern political discontent with striking parallels in human experience ... Anyone familiar with Toronto will give Helwig's dark descriptions of the city's public spaces an added notch on the eerie factor as the story unfolds with grim realistic clarity."
-- Karen Correia da Silva, Steel Bananas Art Collective
full review:

"With pitch-perfect prose, Helwig shows huge compassion and an ability to make Toronto come alive. The city becomes another main character as she expertly guides us through our subways and hospitals, streets and coffee shops ... If there's any justice in the world, Girls Fall Down will be a shoo-in for the Toronto Book Award and Coach House will make sure it gets on the Giller jury's reading list.
Read it now."
-- Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine
full review:

"Prose of astonishing rhythm and precision ... Among the novel's chief virtues is its intimate geography: for all the uncertainty at the heart of this story, it remains anchored by its sheer specificity ... Yet the real success of Girls Fall Down lies in its thematic scope, which is as broad as its geography is narrow. Since 9/11, countless novels have examined the complicated role fear plays in our lives. What makes Helwig's better than most is the depth and nuance of her dark vision."
-- Danielle Groen, The Walrus
full review:

"This is a novel about social and personal disintegration. There are passages that question the solidity of identity. Isn't who we think we are just chemicals sloshing around in our brains? How can we say we "know" something when everything is always falling apart? Yes, the book has touches of DeLillo, but it's a tres contemporary Toronto book (not a US-lit knock-off), and it invites and deserves engaged Canlit contemplation.
Not all Canlit is focused decades backwards.This is a book concerned with what it means to live right here right now."
-- Michael Bryson, Underground Book Club
full review:

More online reviews:
Eye Weekly
Montreal Gazette
Globe and Mail

Between Mountains

"Maggie Helwig has come up trumps ... This challenging dark chronicle of modern Europe touches the same nerves as Rachel Seiffert's The Dark Room. " -- The Guardian (UK)

"Profound [and] assured ... Despite the rawness of its themes, this novel is elegantly written, which is appropriate given its examination of the power of language to both hurt and heal ... At once a tender love story, a compelling narrative about recent history, and an unflinching account of human cruelty and sacrifice." -- Literary Review (UK)

"Her political commitment adds unusual forcefulness to this eloquent combination of war report, courtroom drama and love story ... The story is so well structured, the writing so elegant, that it manages to be enjoyable as well as moving." -- Sunday Telegraph (UK)

"Speaks out with a voice that demands to be heard ... A rich catalogue of characters and a finely tuned structure ... A stunning novel, a deserving contender for this year's prize shortlists" (four-star review) -- Ink (UK)

"A rare glimpse into the tense post-Balkan war political landscape ... The sexual and professional tension between Daniel and Lili is finely wrought with powerful and effective prose ... The most startling passages are those that focus on Markovic's interior monologue ... This is a profound novel ... Should be required reading." -- Winnipeg Free Press

"A rigorous tour of conscience ... Helwig's authority and subtle character work wrest and hold attention on her core story ... The depth of her understanding ... fills this book with moving scenes and striking perceptions." -- Globe and Mail

"Helwig achieves a rare weave with Between Mountains ... an authenticity that rarely surfaces in love stories ... An unexpected pleasure are the sections on translation. Leave it to the author of seven volumes of poetry to describe the act of changing languages so that it seems as dangerous and thrilling as the work of a California firefighter, with twice as many split-second decisions..." -- Quill & Quire

One Building In The Earth

"Many poets are poor philosophers who use their skills with language to seem profound. Helwig, on the other hand, uses language with spare ferocity and wrestles successfully with complex ontological problems ... Helwig is the most gifted writer in the country when it comes to political issues." -- Event

"She has an expert ear for the music of the line, and for other kinds of music, too ... Empathetic grief -- part prayer, part keening -- and brief moments of tenderness between human beings are what she shores up against the recursive horrors of the world." -- Fraser Sutherland, Globe and Mail

"Helwig has always managed to transcend the normal line, turning the ordinary into more than ordinary, and seeing the extraordinary where others might not .... burning with such clarity, through such a lens, that images become thick, and suddenly more human." -- rob mclennan, Word

"Her poems refuse to conform to traditional norms ... Her epic ambition makes her seem (almost) like a latter-day Modernist ... full of striking phrases and images ... Helwig shows great skill and can certainly disturb us when she wants to." -- Vallum

Prairie Fire Review of Books

League of Canadian Poets

Where She Was Standing

Pick for "Best of 2001", George Fetherling, Vancouver Sun: "highly cinematic ... compassionate and compelling"

"Where She Was Standing is beautifully written -- Helwig knows the precise details that render a scene true ... A compelling, insightful and deeply human book that is both politically and artistically mature." -- Hugh Hodges, Quill & Quire

"A winner ... an excellent debut novel written in sparse and powerful prose." -- Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine

Gravity Lets You Down

"The innocent voice of the narrator contrasts with the overtly political subject matter and the urban, sometimes exotic sophistication of her surroundings .... Helwig layers intertextual allusions into a superficially charming but complex work that plays with the boundaries of genre in art." -- Clarissa Hurley, The New Brunswick Reader

"Her elliptical style and colloquial prose constantly challenge a reader. We learn as much from what is left unwritten as we do from what appears on the page." -- Ruth Panofsky, Globe and Mail

"Writing that is honest, even self-effacing ... pulls you along gently, even complicitly, to those hoary places Helwig has visited and has managed to come back through." -- Rob Teixeira, Broken Pencil

"Helwig's style is so fluid, so seemingly effortless that it aches ... It's real, it's honest and it's beautiful." -- Blayne Haggart, Catholic New Times

Apocalypse Jazz

"Maggie Helwig has effectively illustrated many of the significant ideas of our time. The book challenges the conventions of writing ... I want to say that this is a definitive book, but, in a period dominated by chaos theory and paradox, it must remain open-ended." -- Jay Ruzesky, Malahat Review

"Lively, sophisticated, irreverent (but deeply serious) essays ... This remarkable book is virtually impossible to put down." -- David E. Kemp, Canadian Book Review Annual

"A curious, quirky and rigorous book ... As a glimpse into the mind of an inventive, intelligent and unorthodox thinker, Apocalypse Jazz can't be beat." -- Clint Burnham, Paragraph