Oct/Nov 2023

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 Emily Perkins

Lioness is full of insight into the muddled emotions often plaguing mixed families, but Emily Perkins also captures the pleasant intimacy of family gatherings and the benefits of being financially well-off. Therese is not young, she is intelligent and able, and she loves Trevor and sees nothing wrong in doing all she can to make his life comfortable and to help him with his various business enterprises. Nor has she been unhappy with her chosen role in life. Her friendship with Claire does give her a glimpse of an alternative, but she is astute enough to think carefully about her own choices.

Tom Lake
by Ann Patchett

"More," in this book, is so much more. Ann Patchett immerses the reader in Lara's early world where, as a teenager, she makes a sudden decision to audition for the part of Emily in a community theater production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. She is a natural for the part, and her uncle, who is a movie director, sees her in the play and organizes a screen test for her in Los Angeles. There, she is picked up at the airport and driven to a hotel in an "honest-to-god" limousine. Next day, at the Warner Brothers" sound studio, she is professionally made up, dressed, and "transformed into someone who looked like my more attractive first cousin."

George: A Magpie Memoir
by Frieda Hughes

George: A Magpie Memoir, is as much a memoir of Hughes" own life during the 20 months in which George lived with her, as it is of his learning and development, his increasing intelligence and independence, and the way he fits into Hughes' family of a husband and three tiny Maltese terriers. "The Ex," as Hughes refers to her then husband, is not enamored of George, but Snickers, Widget, and Mouse are intrigued by him, and Snickers "clearly wanted to adopt him."

The Escapades of Tribulation Johnson
by Karen Brooks

Tribulation's account of her "escapades" is lively and detailed, full of her hopes, joys, woes and ambitions. Her descriptions of life in Restoration London, and of London itself and its inhabitants, are vivid and fascinating and, if occasionally her appreciation of the scene is a little flowery, she can be forgiven, for she is learning under Aphra's guidance to be a writer.

Gregory Stephenson reviews...

An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris
by Georges Perec (translated and with an afterword by Marc Lowenthal)

This curious project yielded a curiously engaging, poetically evocative, and poignant short prose piece, consisting of a meticulously recorded catalog of vehicles, passersby, signage, litter, and weathers, as observed by the author from vantage points situated behind the windows of three cafés and a bench on the Place Saint-Sulpice. The author witnesses children's games and a funeral, prosperous and purposeful men bearing briefcases, and down-and-outs on public benches knocking back bottles of cheap wine.

Gerald Brennan reviews...

Farsickness: A Novel
by Joshua Mohr

In a book like this, I want the author to disappear, too. I want to forget I'm reading a created thing, a string of words someone poked into a Word document at a desk or coffeeshop. I want to subconsciously believe the narrator is real, that I'm in their head and it's a rollercoaster headed for the drop, and all I need to do is throw my hands up in the air and feel.

Vincent Francone provides...

A Post-Vasectomy Reading Guide

I might have chosen a better book to see me through the days of lower-abdominal ache and post-op bleeding than my second choice, As I Lay Dying. I'd read it in my 20s, decades before the snip-snip, but had been wanting confirmation that my ranking of Faulkner as this country's finest novelist was not some callow estimation. And maybe the title would further elicit sympathy from my wife. The book is as great as ever, but as with the Kelman, modernist wordplay and sore balls don't mix.

Stuart Ross reviews...

Finally, Some Good News (and a couple other titles)
by Delicious Tacos

As for the writing itself, Delicious Tacos commits to that word processing style where Author sneezes during editing process and deletes what mucus hits. Like many voice-driven writers when they get going, which is all we ever want voice-driven writers to do, Delicious Tacos is a failed rapper. Sometimes he spits like what would've happened if you gave Max Hardcore a Selectric instead of a speculum. The writing is what we call lean. Two short sentences. That could easily be one. Immune to indentation. And quotation marks. Shaving down words already slang. Leaning on semicolons in moments of clasping self-reflection. A childfree mature style, as if Huck Finn's phone were being asked to join Nick Adams's hot spot.