Book Review: Tenth of December

Tenth of December by George Saunders

Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders (New York: Random House, 2013. 288 pp) MacArthur “Genuis Grant” fellow George Saunders is the acclaimed author of several collections of short stories, including Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, a collection of essays, a book for children, and a new novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University. From Long-Form Narrative to Short Story Over the years, my previously devoted followers—”the devoted few,” might have noticed a trend to my reviewing habits. My reading consumption skews toward the novel. I review a book of poetry here and there, but largely my mental capacity focuses on long-form narrative. Certainly, elements of this focus coincide with my… Read More →

Properly Introduced: “Steps”

McSweeneys 47

“Steps” by Mona Simpson in McSweeney’s 47 “I didn’t believe in forgiveness, particularly. This all began when I decided to de-clutter my in-box. De-clutter is a compound word that makes Harry say ‘middle-age.’ He jokes about having a lover who wears a dental splint. He’s teasing, but he probably minds my age. I would. I do. But I’m an actress. If I didn’t mind, I’d be a moron. I was deleting, deleting, deleting when I came to yet another message from an unknown sender. Dirk Vanderhoff turned out to be my agent’s secretary’s secretary. Apparently, my agent’s secretary, the young woman who always remained on the line when Solange called, had been fielding messages, and after three from the same… Read More →

Properly Introduced: “Bang!”

Iowa Review

“Bang!” by Sarah Coates in The Iowa Review “Bombs happen. Lots of then. Most places in the world are made of fire. It’s sad, but also everyone kind of wanted it to happen. Just like they really wanted the Cold War to come to some sort of conclusion. People like conclusions. And so Tom made his leap of faith.”

Properly Introduced: “The Tomb of Wrestling”

Tin House Volume 18, Number 2

“The Tomb of Wrestling” by Jo Ann Beard in Tin House “She struck her attacker in the head with a shovel, a small one that she normally kept in the trunk of her car for moving things off the highway. There was a certain time of year in upstate New York when the turtles left their reedy ponds to crawl ponderously through the countryside, and wound up strewn like pottery shards across the road. The box turtles Joan could pick up with her hands; this was the shovel she had purchased to move the snappers to the ditches. Luckily, she had taken it from her trunk in order to straighten out her compost situation.”

Book Review: High Dive

High Dive: A Novel by Jonathan Lee (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 336 pp) Jonathan Lee is a British writer whose recent fiction has appeared in Tin House, Granta, and Narrative, among other magazines. High Dive is his first novel to be published in the United States. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is an editor at the literary journal A Public Space and a contributing editor for Guernica. Tick Tick Tick The ticking time bomb represents a compelling metaphor. If a story opens the door to a timed explosive, the resulting narratives and character development exist in half-life. How much does it really matter when everything explodes? Some stories establish the time bomb narrative in subtle ways. A… Read More →

Properly Introduced: “Differently”

Differently by Alice Munro

“Differently” by Alice Munro in The New Yorker  “Georgia once took a creative-writing course, and what the instructor told her was: Too many things. Too many things going on at the same time; also too many people. Think, he told her. What is the important thing? What do you want us to pay attention to? Think. Eventually she wrote a story that was about her grandfather killing chickens, and the instructor seemed to be pleased with it. Georgia herself thought that it was a fake. She made a long list of all the things that had been left out and handed it in as an appendix to the story. The instructor said that she expected too much, of herself and… Read More →

Book Review: The Meaning of Jesus

The Meaning of Jesus

The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions by Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright (New York: Harper One, 1999. 306 pp) Marcus Borg was a New Testament scholar, theologian, and author. Borg was a fellow of the Jesus Seminar and a major figure in historical Jesus scholarship. Borg attended Concordia College as an undergraduate. He studied at Union Seminary before matriculating at Mansfield College, Oxford, earning an M.Th. and D.Phil. He retired as Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and died in 2015. N.T. Wright is a leading New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired bishop. He earned his B.A. from Exeter College and his D.D. from University of Oxford. After retiring as the Bishop of… Read More →

Book Review: Exit West

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid (New York: Riverhead Books, 2017. 240 pp) Mohsin Hamid is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and the essay collection Discontent and Its Civilizations. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages and have won or been short-listed for numerous prizes, including the Man Booker Prize, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award, and the Betty Trask Award. Hamid’s essays and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, and many other publications. Born in Lahore, he… Read More →

Book Review: To the Bright Edge of the World

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

To the Bright Edge of the World: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2016. 424 pp) Eowyn Ivey’s debut novel, The Snow Child, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and an international bestseller published in twenty-six languages. A former bookseller and newspaper reporter, she was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. Magic I’ve never felt more like a magician than in my early iPhone years around my grandparents. When visiting their domicile, the juxtaposition between the phone desk with a decades-old phone matched with the rolodesk-style address book. This picture paints a stark contrast to the sleek super computer in the pocket. Want to see a… Read More →

Book Review: Between Heaven and Mirth

Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life by James Martin, SJ (New York: Harper One, 2011. 272 pp) Rev. James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America Magazine, and bestselling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and Between Heaven and Mirth. Father Martin has written for many publications, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he is a regular commentator in the national and international media. He has appeared on all the major radio and television networks, as well as in venues ranging from NPR’s Fresh Air, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, and PBS’s NewsHour to Comedy Central’s… Read More →