Category: Book Review (Page 1 of 3)

Book Review: Dallas Woodburn’s “Woman, Running Late, in a Dress”

BY A.M. Larks

Dallas Woodburn’s debut collection of stories, Woman, Running Late, in a Dress, is characterized as interwoven stories, interlinked stories, and, in her own words, “a short story cycle.”

A short story cycle is a curious beast. It is the narwhal of the literary world, a being so odd the Internet could have made it up. But narwhals and short story cycles do exist, and both are rare.

Read More

Book Review: Kristi Coulter’s “Nothing Good Can Come From This”

By Charli Engelhorn

If there was a warning label on the cover of Kristi Coulter’s debut book of essays, Nothing Good Can Come from This, it might read, “This book will cause you to interrogate your life, habits, and doctrines and challenge any previous assessments made about your relationship with alcohol.” That is not to say Coulter’s essays presume to convince the reader of a closeted drinking problem; rather, her heart-rendering prose ladled with sardonic wit create a rumination on the mundane persistence of time, the dichotomy of who we are and who we pretend to be, and the nature of society and compromises required therein, which, if one is not careful, can accumulate into addiction. With a quick and often dark cadence, Coulter weaves her essays to create a remarkable story about the unremarkableness of her journey to sobriety, not in the feat itself, but in the banal scenarios that led to her drinking and decision to stop. There is no melodrama infused in the stories of her alcoholism or sobriety, no sensationalism about addiction, no wringing hands or desperate pleas to the gods. As Coulter explains, after years of massages, yoga, therapists, and other attempts to trick her into wanting to quit, she woke up one day and realized, “what I wanted was no longer important. I would just have to wait and hope that eventually I would want something else.”

Read More

Book Review: Tao Lin’s “Trip”

BY EMILY DUREN

If you want to find out what it feels like, both mentally and physically, to take nearly every psychedelic drug without having to suffer the side effects, look no further than novelist and poet Tao Lin’s Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change.

            Trip, Lin’s first memoir, centers on the time he was working on his novel Taipei, during which he discovered the work of the late Terrence McKenna, one of the biggest proponents of psychedelics. Deeply alienated while writing Taipei, Lin discovers McKenna’s research and becomes infatuated with the questions he poses about language, beliefs, and existence. However, interest eventually turns to adoption, and the reader is taken through a drug-fueled journey of DMT, MDMA, and many other psychedelics.

Read More

Book Review: Maria Hummel’s “Still Lives”

BY D.M. Olsen

It’s the opening night of Still Lives at the Roque Museum and it’s the buzz of the art scene in Los Angeles. It’s also the wildly anticipated return of Kim Lord, who has conjured up a twelve-piece exhibit portraying the murdered bodies of famous victims including Elizabeth Short, Gwen Araujo, Chandra Levy, and Nicole Brown Simpson. The only issue is, Kim Lord never shows up.

Read More

Book Review: Stuart Kells’s “The Library”

BY A.M. LArks

It’s hard to say that The Library by Stuart Kells is about a single library, or even the idea of a library as we have come to know it—a collection of books that the public can borrow. Stuart Kells’s library is both a historical compilation of well-researched facts that informs the public about the origins of our notion of the “library” and the examination of those assumptions.

Read More

Book Review: Chuck Palahniuk’s “Adjustment Day”

By: D.M. Olsen

As a big Fight Club fan, I came to this book with high hopes for the type of enthralling narrative interspersed with social satire—often bordering on the absurd—that Chuck Palahniuk is known for. Adjustment Day seeks to deliver the same impact—as Fight Club did in the 90s—in a sort of Version 2.0 escalation of the cult concept. Palahniuk uses the novel to introduce what the title suggests, an “Adjustment Day.” A day where a group of men, who have been reading a blue black book by Talbott Reynolds, gather to take down the men in power. They know who to target based on a secret list that has been circulating on the internet and gaining votes. The ear of a person on the list will garner the person who harvested it power in the new world order that is to form after Adjustment Day.

Read More

Book Review: Susan Henderson’s “The Flicker of Old Dreams”

BY: A.m. Larks

Isolation and ostracization feature heavily in Susan Henderson’s latest novel, The Flicker of Old Dreams. The setting is Petroleum, Montana, population 182 and decreasing, “Those who’ve heard of Petroleum are often surprised it’s still here. The town is primarily known for what it no longer has: oil.”  In a town this small, the people of Petroleum are required to be interdependent upon one another because the trains have stopped running, there is no cell service, and the winters are long and harsh. “This view of Petroleum is picaresque as the community, every single member, it seems, helps to shovel what they can.” And in part, this view of Petroleum is true: “The festival is less a celebration than a day to prepare for the upcoming snowstorms. Today neighbors will weatherproof homes, share tools, supplies, and labor.” “One of the neighbors with a snowplow attached to the front of his truck scrapes up and down the streets. This should make it easier to get to the highway.” The people who stay in Petroleum are committed to community and interdependence: “This is the life we commit to here. That we cannot rely on others. That no one can reach us so we better help ourselves.” However, in any social group, there exist dissidents. The Flickers of Old Dreams explores what happens to two such “outsiders.”

Read More

Book Review: Leslie Jamison’s “The Recovering”

By: Heather Scott Partington

Leslie Jamison wasn’t a stereotypical drunk. She wasn’t a stereotypical student, either. Even at the peak of her alcoholism, Jamison held down a job, published a novel, and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Yale, and Harvard without hitting a conventional bottom. If you read Jamison’s 2014 essay collection, The Empathy Exams, you know her unique voice, her elegant syntax, her capacity for listening to another’s pain and rendering it on the page as something unnervingly fresh. The Recovering is the story of Jamison’s journey to get sober, told through the filter of her research about the lives of other artists and writers. Through the use of outside source material and interrogations of standard addiction narratives, Jamison seeks to make her memoir, The Recovering, an anti-recovery memoir, one that confronts (ahead of time, almost) the nagging voice of any reader who might challenge aspects of the author’s recovery story or, perhaps, the value of recovery stories in general. However, in addition to the author’s efforts to carve out a new type of recovery genre, Jamison’s memoir snags a little in the territory of her own exceptionalism: I am special, the author’s tone suggests over and over in her 500-plus-page memoir. The minutia of my graduate school romance was unique. I am too smart for AA. I am not like other academics. I am not like other drunks.

Read More

Book Review: Geoff Nicholson’s “The Miranda”

By: D.M. Olsen

Some might consider Joe Johnson’s situation a crisis. He just quit his job as a torture expert for a covert government agency called the Team. Joe also just divorced his wife and moved into a remote home three hours north of London, where he intends to walk the circumference of the earth from the privacy of his backyard. He plans to walk a small, circular path twenty-five miles a day for one thousand days. However, as Joe quickly finds out, and as the compelling narrative unfolds, privacy is the last thing afforded by Joe’s new house. He is surrounded by nosy neighbors, a philosophical mailman, and a band of skinheads who invoke a turf war with the veteran torture artist. And, of course, Miranda.

Read More

Book Review: Jessica Keener’s “Strangers in Budapest”

by John Flynn-York

Image result for strangers in budapest

In Jessica Keener’s new novel, Strangers in Budapest, the lives of two ex-pat Americans become intertwined in the titular city in the 1990s. Annie is unhappy and shiftless, at loose ends after a move to Budapest with her husband and their young son. Meanwhile, Edward, an elderly man, is in Budapest for one reason only: to find the man he thinks murdered his daughter. When they cross paths, they find common ground in this quest. Edward is a cause Annie can invest her energy into—something she’s been lacking since moving to Budapest. But when she is drawn deeper into Edward’s scheming, she begins to question whether she’s merely helping an old man or abetting his delusions.

Read More

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén