Issue 26 Reviews
Jennifer Atkinson, Canticle of the Night Path
Reviewed by Carter Mason Guthrie
Writing about both the sacred and profane, Atkinson’s images conjure up what Yeats calls the “foul rag and bone shop of the heart.” In Canticle of the Night Path, she writes as easily about “[p]ollen, lint, scale, mites, mite shit, bits of skin and grit, residue and shadow—light as light” as she does about Mary Magdalene—who “slept under a flowering almond / And woke shivering, blotched with its petals.”
Jessica Baran, Equivalents
Reviewed by Sara Lupita Olivares
A certain disassociation occurs when examining a piece of art. We may not know how much of ourselves to bring to the experience or how much to remove, but finding the balance often teaches us of our perception—its current state, and its natural movement towards expansiveness, which occurs by simply looking a bit further than usual.
Julia Fierro, Cutting Teeth
Reviewed by Anabel Graff
DON’T LET THE Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls on the cover fool you—Julia Fierro’s debut novelisn’t playing around. Cutting Teeth tells the story of a group of thirty-something Brooklynites as they spend a weekend together at a beach house in Eden, Long Island—with their children in tow. Though the novel may be set in Eden, the weekend getaway is far from paradise.
Jessica Hollander, In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place
Reviewed by Dena Garcia
A delightful, hyperrealistic take on today’s suburban landscape, Jessica Hollander’s debut In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place won the 2013 University of North Texas’ Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Short Fiction. The collection’s nineteen short stories—many of them short-shorts, coming in at less than five pages—present darkly comic situations arising out of progressive mores conflicting with our society’s underlying traditional expectations.
Chas Hoppe and Joshua Young, The Diegesis
Reviewed by Mike Kaufmann
You may have heard about Tao Lin’s latest novel, Taipei, and its divisively wordy prose, ironic articulation of hipster boredom, or even the book’s shiny, computer-graphic-inspired cover. Lin’s detractors critique his overly literal narration while devotees laud his meticulous documentation of a generation raised on the Internet. No matter what you’ve heard, my advice would be: Don’t believe the hype.
Kelly Luce, Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail
Reviewed by Theresa Holden
It would be too easy to focus on the fantastical elements of Kelly Luce’s first short story collection, Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail. The first and last stories are bookends, both exploring the narrative conceits of magical machinery. In “Ms. Yamada’s Toaster,” the titular appliance predicts how a person dies through Kanji characters burned onto a piece of toast. The final story, “Amorometer,” features a machine that quantifies the unquantifiable by “measuring one’s capacity to love.” Though most of the stories utilize the medium of magic, what’s more interesting is how Luce grounds them in reality.
Mary Anne Mohanraj, The Stars Change
Reviewed by Cristina Chopalli
ON A DISTANT planet, a missile has been fired into a neighborhood inhabited by aliens and humods—humans that have been genetically altered. Comprised of South-Asian immigrants, whose ancestors once lived on Earth, each member of a university community must decide the value of familial, platonic, and romantic relationships in the face of an interstellar war threatening to bring their world to a sudden, painful end.
David Hale Smith, Ed., Dallas Noir
Reviewed by Kamron Mehrinfar
Having lived in the Dallas area for much of my adolescence, I was immediately intrigued by the promise of Akashic Books’ new anthology Dallas Noir. Like previous volumes of the expansive Noir series, an array of authors—some more noteworthy than others—attempt to capture the atmosphere of a title locale and expose its darker side, the danger and sordid goings-on that less-adventurous residents hope to avoid in everyday life. Ironically, some of the best stories in Dallas Noir are those in which everyday Dallas life becomes more dangerous than expected.
Dawn Diez Willis, Still Life with Judas and Lightning
Reviewed by Laura Drell
A collection of portraits: men and women’s lives fluttering, for a moment, between the pages of a book. Dawn Diez Willis’s Still Life with Judas and Lightning presents a sequence of characters with beauty and song and a great measure of quiet observation. It’s like walking through a museum and finding the gold-framed faces are more than skin-colored paint and eyelashes—each possesses a pulsing spirit hidden just behind the canvas.