Issue 28 Reviews
Forrest Gander, The Trace
Reviewed by Eric Blankenburg
ALL AROUND US, ghosts of the past linger: in the buildings, on the roads, and in the landscape. In Forrest Gander’s second novel, The Trace, these spirits trail a couple as they journey through Mexico’s Chihuahua Desert in order to retrace the final days of Ambrose Bierce, famed nineteenth century journalist. Miles from nowhere, on their way home, the couple takes a shortcut, and their car overheats in the dangerously hot countryside. There an encounter with narcos will alter them forever.
Chloe Benjamin, The Anatomy of Dreams
Reviewed by Anabel Graff
THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS, the debut novel from Chloe Benjamin, tells the story of Sylvie Patterson and Gabe Lennox, who meet and fall in love while at boarding school in Northern California in 1998. While at school, their enigmatic headmaster, Dr. Adrian Keller, recruits Gabe as a research assistant for a sleep study that focuses on the healing possibilities of lucid dreaming. But Sylvie and Gabe’s idyllic time at Mills doesn't last long, and one day Gabe mysteriously leaves school never to return. Sylvie is sure she will never see Gabe again until, years later, Gabe finds Sylvie and convinces her to join Keller’s research team.
Marie Manilla, The Patron Saint of Ugly
Reviewed by Michaela Hansen
ALL THE WORLD is built on myth. My family creates stories that cast our members as heroes, fools, and angels. What family does not possess at least one member who can layer time and words and characters to hew together a mythology that at once records and foretells, establishes the mundane and the extraordinary, punishes and forgives? Marie Manilla has crafted a rich and complex novel about how we use narrative across community and generations. The Patron Saint of Ugly is about the way we construct understanding and belief.
David Ohle, The Blast
Reviewed by Phillip Mandel
THE MOST THRILLING part of reading The Blast came after I finished it, looked up David Ohle on the Internet, and learned that his many other books are set in the same strange world. The Blast is a slim, post-apocalyptic novella that gives readers a couple of tense, amusing, and entertaining hours. I simply couldn’t put the book down, and that almost never happens.
Harryette Mullen, Urban Tumbleweed: Notes From A Tanka Diary
Reviewed by Casey Winters
WALKING. EVERY DAY, we walk. And we see things. We stroll through the grocery store, the park, a Target parking lot, and we observe the phenomenal. We typically let these fathoms of the world and people hang in our subconscious brains like a quick–clearing fog. In Urban Tumbleweed: Notes From A Tanka Diary, Harryette Mullen challenged herself to notice these ordinary sightings and hold them in her hand. For a year and a day, Mullen wrote down what she saw. After reading her diary of a book, it is evident that what is happening around us is not only meaningful, but far more connected than we might think.