'There is a section in Impossible Owls where Brian Phillips writes about tigers, and he notes that what's most astonishing about the animal is not its size or power or beauty, but its capacity to disappear. This is an excellent description of a tiger, but also an excellent description of how Phillips writes. These are big, powerful, beautiful essays - but no matter how personal the content, he just seems to disappear into the paragraphs'
'Again and again, Impossible Owls proves that Brian Phillips is a cultural codebreaker of the highest order, unlocking the hidden systems of our mad world. Hilarious, nimble and thoroughly illuminating'
'Impossible Owls takes you deep into worlds both far-flung and familiar - tiger trails, tiny towns of the Yukon, Route 66, a Walmart parking lot. Brian Phillips riffs and reports with abiding curiosity and incisive humour. A fantastic, transporting read'
'Brian Phillips's Impossible Owls takes the American essay in new direction - these narratives are simultaneously stories of questing and strandedness. Characters and landscapes become knowable and disorienting. Tigers, royals, mysterious Russian artists and foreign countries are subjects of Phillips's close, careful journalism, as well as representatives of all the glittering, un-graspable things that lie outside us. Witty, pensive, sometimes whimsical, always truthful, Impossible Owls is testament to Phillips's gift for enchantment, and his genius for knowing exactly where our alienation from the world meets our sympathy for it'
'I most love Impossible Owls for how it sends me returning to the central question that I enjoy most in any work I find myself chasing after: what do we, as writers, owe a single idea, but to stretch it out beyond whatever our imaginations thought possible? I love that this is a book of highways and historical touchstones and large geographic shifts. But I also love that at the heart of those bigger things, there is the gentle touch of Brian Phillips underneath it all, creating a landscape for a reader to see not his work, but to better see themselves'
'The journeys that make up Impossible Owls lead us to some remarkable, unpredictable places, from the Alaskan wilderness to a supermarket parking lot in southern Japan, from an old movie palace in Moscow to the underground histories of northern Oklahoma. But these far-flung tales all share the same inspirational spark: Brian Phillips's soulful, intrepid spirit, and his masterful ability at turning everyday curiosities into epic quests that you can't stop reading'
'Brian Phillips's essays are out of this world: big-hearted, exhaustive, unrelentingly curious, and goddamned fun'
'Phillips takes readers down unexpected paths that are as world-expanding as they are entertaining'
'Brian Phillips has a way of making you care about the things he cares about in the way he cares about them, which is passionately, almost obsessively . . . impeccably researched . . . invigorating and muscular; the perspective is enthusiastic and vital; the book is a must-get'
'Brian Phillips has a wonderful way of taking readers to entirely unfamiliar places in nature (the Yukon) and in culture (sumo wrestling), and translating those experiences into something that feels visceral . . . get lost in this captivating essay collection, which brings to life both the extraordinary and the mundane'
'Phillips is a long-form journalist of the old school, a deep research artist, and a killer stylist . . . Impossible Owls is an absorbing and totally distinctive exploration of wildly disparate corners of our world'
'A rich mix of derring-do, insightful analysis and creative non-fiction . . . "Once and Future Queen", a meditation on royalty in the twenty-first century, is breathtakingly beautiful . . . Phillips is funny, sharp, obsessive and very readable'