Eula Bliss at The New York Times:
Heidi Julavits once said that keeping a diary when she was young is what made her a writer. Julavits, the author of four novels, revisits that story in the opening pages of her latest work, “The Folded Clock.” She tells of returning to her childhood diaries after making that claim, looking for evidence of the writer she would become. “The actual diaries, however, fail to corroborate the myth I’d concocted for myself,” she admits. “They reveal me to possess the mind, not of a future writer, but of a future paranoid tax auditor. I exhibited no imagination, no trace of a style, no wit, no personality.” With “The Folded Clock,” she corrects the record. Keeping a diary may not have made her a writer, but becoming a writer has made it possible for her to produce, now, an exquisite diary.
This diary is a diary in the way that Thomas De Quincey’s “Confessions of an English Opium Eater” is a confession, or that Daniel Defoe’s “A Journal of the Plague Year” is a journal, or that Sei Shonagon’s “Pillow Book” is a pillow book. Meaning it is, and it isn’t. “The Folded Clock” refuses one of the primary conventions of the diary: chronology. The entry for July 16 is followed by Oct. 18, which is followed by June 18. Time moves loosely forward, so that the final entries occur a year or two after the initial entries, but time loops and circles forward.