Issue 29 Reviews
Michelle Detorie, After-Cave
Reviewed by Lauren Bull
When I was was fifteen, I had braces, no boobs, and parents who still drove me to school. So I felt somewhat prepared when I read the description of the speaker in Michelle Detorie’s After-Cave: “I am 15. Female. Human (I think).”
Lance Olsen, How to Unfeel the Dead: New and Selected Fictions
Reviewed by Katrina Goudey
Lance Olsen is author of more than twenty books of and about experimental fiction, and his latest collection, How to Unfeel the Dead: New and Selected Fictions, showcases some of his past works from 1993-2003, as well as some pieces of experimental prose from the last ten years. Lance Olsen's work has appeared in hundreds of reviews and anthologies, and he currently teaches innovative narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah. With that being said, as a how-to book, How to Unfeel the Dead is seriously lacking in how to actually unfeel the dead.
Caren Beilin, The University of Pennsylvania
Reviewed by Rachel Gray
I learned many things reading The University of Pennsylvania. The book showed me that it’s possible to write something poetic and call it fiction, and that it is absolutely fantastic when it’s pulled off. I learned that George Fox founded Quakerism, that he was depressed, and kept a journal, and believed women had souls.
Clare Louise Harmon, The Thingbody
Reviewed by Zach Groesbeck
In a black and white short film plays the music of a dissonant piano that sounds like rain falling into a puddle of children’s tears and a viola that sounds like a wailing grackle. Then, from darkness emerges a crawling figure with a gaping mouth and a single hand thrice the size of any other limb. This figure collapses.
Eduardo Sacheri, trans. Mara Faye Lethem, Papers in the Wind
Reviewed by Graham Oliver
The plot of Papers in the Wind could be the beginning of a joke: A Jew, a lawyer, and a high school English teacher walk into negotiations for the transfer of a soccer player. This, of course, is a gross oversimplification of a story that spans years and even entire lives. The soccer player is Mario Juan Bautista Pittilanga, a kid who was a rising power in the U-17 division, but in the Argentinian minors has little hope of achieving stardom. The three men own his transfer because the English teacher’s brother, Mono, used a windfall to buy it, hoping to use the resulting profits to improve his relationship with his daughter, Guadalupe. The book opens with Mono’s funeral.
There are identity politics at play with writers of color. If you’re Latino, let’s say, and write about nature, then you have to somehow “spice” it up; if you’re Latina and write about the Latina experience, then you write about race/gender and nothing deeper. There are limits we impose on writers, when writers ought to choose their limits. Ideally, writers should be able to write however and whatever they want, giving readers a new experience by expanding on traditions that came before them; artists choose their own emotional and intellectual heroes.