October 6, 2015

What Do You Think Is Going on? Wendy Walters’s ‘Multiply/Divide’ 0


It’s not just people who are reshaping their narratives in Multiply/Divide. Cities, towns, and neighborhoods also recount their histories and often do so with a similar blurring of fact and fiction.

October 5, 2015

The Chorus of Literature: On Geraldine Brooks’s ‘The Secret Chord’ 0


Several hundred years after the divinely appointed monarch became an anachronism in the West, we can’t stop telling stories about that great man, the king.

October 2, 2015

Love in the Ruins: On Matt Bell’s ‘Scrapper’ 1


Maybe the finest thing about Scrapper is the way in takes us into a deep-pore underworld that’s rarely explored in even the best books about Detroit.

October 1, 2015

Apocalypse Now: Claire Vaye Watkins’s ‘Gold Fame Citrus’ 1


Gold Fame Citrus takes an important step away from the moral convenience of cataclysm-as-metaphor — or, in lesser novels, cataclysm-as-plot-starter — toward an angrier, more urgent form that insists its reader do more than wallow in free-floating anxiety about the future.

September 30, 2015

Ode on Computer Games: On Michael W. Clune’s ‘Gamelife’ 2


What matters most to Clune is not so much the advocacy of computer games. What matters most is simply the undeniable fact that he’s poured so much time and dreams, thoughts and hopes, moods and memories into these games and that, as a result, a serious part of his childhood was shaped by them.

September 18, 2015

Fictionalizing the Facts: On Lily Tuck’s ‘The Double Life of Liliane’ 0


After a fashion we stop questioning how much of what we are reading is memoir and how much of it isn’t, and simply surrender to the elegant, limpid prose.

September 17, 2015

Charring the Page: On Ada Limón’s ‘Bright Dead Things’ 0


Bright Dead Things offers many answers, but is equally appealing for its questions: “Yesterday I was nice, but in truth I resented / the contentment of the field. Why must we practice / this surrender?” May our poems always be wild.

September 16, 2015

Tricks and Lies: On Valeria Luiselli’s ‘The Story of My Teeth’ 1


At this point you’re probably laughing. You probably think that The Story of My Teeth sounds like performance art, which it might be, or like an MFA candidate’s anxiety-induced nightmare.

September 14, 2015

Heart of the Storm: On Patrick deWitt’s ‘Undermajordomo Minor’ 0


Is it fair to consider deWitt in terms of a binary between high and low? Is his work entertainment, something to get us off? Or is it original, beautiful, communicating deep ideas? Do we need to pick?

September 10, 2015

The Slow Violence of the Flyover States: On Joe Meno’s ‘A Marvel and a Wonder’ 4


Meno’s book makes visible the typically invisible victims of unjust economic policies. It makes these characters people — flawed and beautiful. It resists too much judgment or proselytizing and explores complex situations with appropriate complexity.