Jul/Aug 2021

e c l e c t i c a   r e v i e w s  & 
i n t e r v i e w s

Reviews & Interviews

(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

Ann Skea reviews...

by Jhumpa Lahiri

...but like all women, I've had my share of married men. Today I think of one I met here, in this bar on the other side of the river where I now happen to be, on my own... He was unhappily, permanently married. We had a fling. He lived in another city, and he would come down from time to time, for the day, for work. What else is there to say?

The Other Black Girl
by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Harris started writing this book when she was working for the publishers Knoff Doubleday, and, she tell us, "after the rare occurrence of running into another young Black woman in the bathroom," she began to wonder "what if there can only be one of us?" She knows the publishing world, is an excellent story-teller whose characters come alive, and this book is inventive, easy-reading, and fascinating.

Alexandria: The Quest for the lost city
by Edmund Richardson

The Pashtans say that when God created the world, he had a heap of rocks left over, out of which he made Afghanistan. Crossing the borderlands, even in good company, was an arduous journey. But to Masson, everything seemed strange and beautiful. Dusty brown plains and wide fertile valleys gave way to red-gold mountain foothills and snow-covered peaks. Dazed from lack of sleep, "I could almost imagine," he wrote, "that I was travelling in fairyland." He had fallen in love with this land.

by Christy Lefteri

Yiannis had lost his executive position in a bank during the 2008 financial crisis. Now, he makes a living by foraging for wild asparagus and mushrooms, but mostly by illegally poaching the small, endangered and protected songbirds for which Cyprus is a rest-stop on their migratory route from Europe to Africa. He catches them in nets from a fishing boat, or on gluey lime sticks, "hundreds of them strategically placed in the trees where the birds come to feed." He bites their necks to kill them humanely, then cleans, plucks and pickles them so they are ready to sell on to distributors who supply bars and restaurants, where diners considered them a delicacy. "They are worth more than their weight in gold," he says.

the shut ins
by Katherine Brabon

Mai "doesn't have the urge... every woman is expected to have." She likes her job and does not want to leave it. J is a good husband, industrious and "moulded" to his role of corporate businessman, but she does not want to take care of him, and she does not want to have his child. She feels "trapped in a current." "Each of us could be living an entirely different life," she writes to her old school-friend Hikaru. "I have been thinking of it more and more lately."

I Know What I Saw
by Imran Mahmood

From that moment on, Xander's story becomes a roller-coaster of accusations, misunderstandings, tangled events, fear, and confusion. It is clear he has gaps in his memory, some of which are due to his head injury, but some are a deliberate suppression of memories related to trauma surrounding the death of his brother, the subsequent break-up of his relationship with his much-loved partner, Grace, and to a large sum of money Xander had withdrawn from their joint bank-account and left, for safe-keeping, with a mutual friend.

Zach Semel interviews...

Josh Malerman
author of Bird Box

It's really hard for me to exit one sphere and enter the other. Imagine you're writing [fiction] all day, right? It's a little hard to just grab the guitar and write a song. They're both creative, but they're creative in different ways, so I find myself having to go on benders with both: let's write a whole album, then I'm going to go write another book. It takes some effort and focus to even exit one sphere, let alone to enter the other one.

Ed Werstein reviews...

The Bold News of Bird Calls
by Ed Morin

The book contains four sections, each titled with an avian species and an attribute the author ascribes to it. It wasn't until I read the first poem in the last section that I appreciated the arc these attributes bring to the book: noise (Jays), melody (Wrens), endurance (Robins), and passage (Swans).

Martha Petersen reviews...

Disparates: Essays
by Patrick Madden

Prosecutor [interrupting]: Your Honor, I must remind you Mr. Madden is an avowed deceiver, and he is on trial for such. He admits to revising truth, to not knowing what truth is, even, which is heinous on its face. For this, and as an example to his friends, he must hang. The State rests.