Reviews

May 12, 2014

The Other Kind of Country People: On Katherine Faw Morris’s Young God 0

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Young God is a strong entry in the tradition of the Southern Gothic Novel (redneck noir subcategory), but, while reading it and after watching True Detective, I began to wonder if the genre still has any explanatory power for contemporary America.

May 6, 2014

What To Expect When 30 Women Write About Giving Birth: On Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers 0

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There’s nothing watered-down about the stories in this volume: they are blunt, wistful, confessional, wise, loving, sorrowful, witty and sometimes eerie.

April 30, 2014

Meanwhile, in a Dark Forest: On Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale 0

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A Fairy Tale is a fascinating and often brutal meditation on alienation and trauma. “What separates man from any other species,” Peter’s father told him one evening, before it all came undone, “is his ability to adapt.” But in A Fairy Tale, adaptation is precisely the problem.

April 24, 2014

Undomesticated: On Joan Chase’s During the Reign of the Queen of Persia 2

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One reason that Joan Chase has slipped into obscurity, while her rough contemporaries Robinson, Mason, and Mantel have ascended, is the relative infrequency with which she publishes.

April 23, 2014

When It Becomes Clear What It Is That They Will Be Doing, I Will Be Very Interested in Their Doings: On The Best of McSweeney’s 1

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The Best of McSweeney’s is a triumph, not only as a stand-alone book, but also (and especially) as a testament to the power of the short story, the essay, the experiment. A tribute, too, to the power of one person’s vision, proof that writers can influence the world outside the borders of their prose.

April 23, 2014

450 Years of Juliets: On Women Making Shakespeare 2

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The history of women interacting with Shakespeare’s plays is also the history of women’s rights, suffrage, and of the feminist movement. Shakespeare has been, and is, an uneasy ally.

April 22, 2014

Short Stories, Italian Style: On Francesca Marciano’s The Other Language 2

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A new dress, a change of scene, a spontaneous invitation: Marciano understands that these are the superficial actions people take in order to get at the deeper impulses they cannot name.

April 18, 2014

Transylvanians Gone Wild: On Miklós Bánffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy 0

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This might not be the thing one wants to hear before embarking on a 1,500 page quest, but the trilogy is marked by a narrative desultoriness that applies to both its human and political dramas. The novels are in a some ways about widespread distraction and inaction in the face of an impending catastrophe.

April 15, 2014

A Story is Worth a Thousand Data Points: Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys 3

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Surely, high-frequency trading is more complicated than Lewis’s portrait, but if he hadn’t found a way to boil down this highly technical issue to an emotionally satisfying tale of good vs. evil, most of us would never have known it existed.

April 14, 2014

Literature on the Installment Plan: A Review Of Best European Fiction 2014 1

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One possible implication of The Best European Fiction series is not only that Europe is going the way of America, but that the stories in it already represent the kind of writing that isn’t possible in America anymore.