Book Reviews

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Marzano-Lesnevich uses the great gift of empathy to explore her subject, instead of only relying on rhetorical flourishes. The facts in this work provide a vehicle for a deeper exploration of human emotion in the aftermath of an evil act—indignation, forgiveness, fear, resentment, understanding, etc.

Joy Williams’s Ninety-nine Stories of God

Joy Williams’s Ninety-nine Stories of God

Reading Ninety-nine Stories can be a disjointed, disorienting experience. It’s accessible, subdivided into bite-sized, fast stories that serve to chill or humor or unsettle. But these segments, extreme in their brevity and hyper-precise in their language, are often deliberately contradictory, confusing the book’s own ideas and the reader’s understanding.

Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth

Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth

 Unferth is unable to write a boring sentence. She denies her creations cliché resolution, is resilient to heroic evolutions, permits no godly miracles. We anticipate these ill-fated characters will succumb to their predicted dead-ends, but Unferth time after time demonstrates a remarkable gift for conjuring the unforeseeable, and the restricted scopes of her worlds miraculously give birth to expansive possibilities and ambient revelations through a voice ignited by its own humanity.  

The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

Something akin to magic occurs when the reader is filled with knowledge that surpasses the characters on the page, when we gain authority over their insecurities and discomforts, when we have answers that could crack open their families, could soften their tensions, answers they will never know

Tyler's Last by David Winner

Tyler's Last by David Winner

For readers whose acquaintance with Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Strangers on a Train) is only surface deep, Tyler's Last (Outpost19, 2015) by David Winner will be something of a shock. The frequent movie adaptations of her work make her a recognizable figure, yet leave a comfortable distance between the viewer and the author herself—up close, as we see her in this book, she is something else altogether, more intimate and intense, misanthropic and violent.

Revisits: Don DeLillo’s Americana

Revisits: Don DeLillo’s Americana

There is blood on the hands of the American soul. If we are born American citizens, we inherit this stain; but if we begin our lives elsewhere and then choose our American citizenship, we must absorb the stain as a necessary burden. We must prove or disprove through work, destruction, or enlightenment—through choice and action—that, to a point, we are well-suited to our national identity. 

Half an Inch of Water by Percival Everett

Half an Inch of Water by Percival Everett

This West is not mythologized and looks nothing like the Hollywood West of John Ford and John Wayne. Though rather than replace this version with a gritty and overly harshened Real West, Everett colors his fictional landscape with the objectivity and indifference of Nature. Here in Everett’s world, Nature often permeates tales most explicitly through the presence of horses.