Book Review: The Houseguest, by Amparo Dávila

By AM Larks

The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila, translated by Audrey Harris & Matthew Gleeson, is a collection of stories so haunting and so tinged with the surreal that it reminds the reader of the pleasure of being scared. Dávila, whose stories feel both timeless and timely, accomplishes this distress by blending well-known horror tropes with real-world details.

Book Review: The Condition of Secrecy by Inger Christensen (translated by Susanna Nied)

BY: A.M. Larks

“For as human beings, we can’t avoid being part of the artistic process, where source, creation, and effect are inextricably bound together. Here in our necessity,” Inger Christensen writes in her collection of selected essays, The Condition of Secrecy, which contain, in part, her thoughts on writing and its fundamental role in human existence.

Book Review: T Kira Madden’s “Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls”

By: Pallavi Yetur

The debut memoir of essayist T Kira Madden has already been hailed as a gorgeous and harrowing coming-of-age story. And so it is. But the delivery of her story is nowhere near as generic as the term “coming-of age.” In this memoir Madden achieves the feat of creating universal nostalgia and relatability while crafting a world uniquely her own. Conflicts abound—between her mother and father, between her fantasies and reality, between her inner self and her outer appearance. But by its end, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls proves itself a moving ode to the family and identity Madden fiercely owns.

Book Review: Chaya Bhunaveswar’s “White Dancing Elephants”

BY: A.M. Larks

Chaya Bhuvaneswar fills her collection White Dancing Elephants with honest, unfiltered observations about tragedy and poetic truths, while crafting a diverse set of characters that spans from the unlikeable to the heart-wrenchingly sympathetic.

Lee Martin’s The Mutual UFO Network

by: A.m. Larks

To assume that Lee Martin is writing about little green men and flying saucers would be a faux pas, but Martin is writing about things that are no less alien to us: our fellow human beings. The Mutual UFO Network explores the complexity of human relationships, which is as terrifying, strange, and incomprehensible as any extraterrestrial lifeform.

Susan Orlean’s The Library Book

BY: Annette Davis

Susan Orlean, in her latest work, The Library Book, takes an in-depth look at the Los Angeles Central Library’s fascinating history. Orlean creates an almost romantic image. She entices her readers to see all libraries as something more than book repositories but as living, vital members of communities, catering to the needs of all who seek knowledge and a place of refuge.

Book Review: LaTasha “Tacha B.” Braxton’s “Dark Chains”

BY: A.M. Larks

 

Dark Chains by LaTasha “Tacha B.” Braxton is a self-published spiritual autobiography of a girl’s journey through abuse to religious conversion. At its high point, Braxton’s story connects the reader to the experience of growing up in an abusive environment. 

We children were suffering the most, having to constantly hear that yelling and bad language influenced by drugs and alcohol through our locked bedroom door. We dealt with the trauma our mother felt from having a gun put to her face by my father. We dealt with the fear after my father threw a big concrete block through their bedroom window, shattering glass everywhere, with the brick barely missing my tiny head as I innocently slept in my mother’s arms. We were succumbing to this dysfunctional curse that would negatively impact too many generations to come.

Book Review: Adam Nemett’s “We Can Save Us All”

By David M. Olsen

We Can Save Us All is an ambitious debut by a very talented Adam Nemett. The book begins with a chance meeting of our rather nerdy protagonist, David Fuffman, in an odd, drug-enhanced damn-building exercise where he meets the charismatic and wealthy Mathias Blue—in a frigid river, at Princeton. This clever scene is a fun springboard into the witty, satirical, and nihilistic novel that is to follow. The story is set in the near future where all-too-realistic issues of war and climate change combine with a phenomenon called “Chronostrictesis,” where time itself seems to be coming to an end as though through a funnel: human existence as we know it is no longer, as the characters have to stockpile food and supplies for the severe weather and the impending superstorm.

Book Review: Micah Perks’ “True Love”

BY: A.M. Larks

Everyone I know is looking for a way to escape, hit pause on reality, and just take a breath; get immersed in something else, someone else, anything else because the real world seems too much to bear. And I am no exception. I do it too. Because at its heart, that’s what reading is: a way to escape the world around you, which makes it ironic that my escape would be reading about characters who are trying to escape their own complicated fictional lives in True Love And Other Dreams of Miraculous Escape by Micah Perks.

Book Review: Nicole Chung’s “All You Can Ever Know”

BY: A.M. Larks

It is our origin stories that shape us. How we came to be in this world matters almost as much as what we do in it. There is a natural and innate curiosity to know the facts that happened before our consciousness, that ties us to our personal histories, to our culture, and to a larger family history. “Family lore given to us as children has such a hold over us, such staying power. It can form the bedrock of another kind of faith, one to rival any religion, informing our beliefs about ourselves, and our families, and our place in the world,” Nicole Chung writes in All You Can Ever Know. These stories are often simplified down to almost anecdotal summation, like my spouse who blames his perpetual tardiness on being late for his own due date. He came out a month late but only by inducement. He was late in the beginning and therefore will always be late.