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Last Build Date: Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:24:38 +0000


Courtney Elizabeth Mauk’s Characters Are Stronger Together

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 19:55:26 +0000

photo: Jiyang Chen Courtney Elizabeth Mauk’s new novel, The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things, introduces us to a family in pain: a mother, father, and son all struggling to cope with the disappearance of their daughter (older sister) Jennifer nearly a year ago. Rapidly moving from one perspective to the next within the story’s tight [...]

Lazer Lederhendler’s French-English Wall

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 05:41:42 +0000

photo courtesy Biblioasis Canadian novelist Catherine Leroux’s second book, The Party Wall, won the Quebec Booksellers Prize and the Prix France Québec when it was first published in French in 2014. Lazer Lederhendler’s English-language translation, published this year by Biblioasis, has just won Canada’s Governor General’s Award for translated literature, and it made the shortlist for [...]

Lisa Graley: When Bad Things Happen to Good Characters

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 01:02:17 +0000

photo: Chelsea Ellison Last year, the University of Georgia presented the Flannery O’Connor Prize to Lisa Graley for the short stories collected in The Current That Carries. One of the first things you’ll notice about Graley’s writing is her ability to get inside the heads of her characters, like the widower in “Vandalism” who starts out [...]

Life Stories #87: Barry Yourgrau

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 05:13:35 +0000

Barry Yourgrau actually lives just around the corner from me in Queens, so it was absurdly easy for us to get together to chat about his memoir, Mess—and the fact that this episode was recorded in my kitchen explains the occasional traffic noises from outside the second-floor window. Anyway, we had a great time talking about why he didn't let anyone into his working studio—;not even his girlfriend, whose apartment it was originally—and what happened when she finally told him to get it together. That led us to the differences between clutter and hoarding, and about how his efforts to create a document of his efforts to finally clear out his apartment sometimes created a "double block," where he wasn't writing and wasn't cleaning. And then I mentioned how Mess foregrounds one of the fundamental qualities of memoir, the way in which it offers the memoirist's life up for judgment, because that's something Yourgrau does himself with practically everyone he encounters in the course of his story.

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Life Stories #86: Matteson Perry

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 03:49:45 +0000

After Matteson Perry broke up with his "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," he realized that he'd never really NOT been in a serious relationship since high school, and decided it was time to get casual. Available recounts his adventures, and over the course of our conversation he explained what he learned about himself during his year of no-strings-attached dating, including how the validation he got from being able to land so many first dates was like the thrill he got as a stand-up performer—as well as how he ended up meeting his wife (and not dating her for several months), and what she thought when he told her he was going to write a book about how he was playing the field just before they started seeing each other.

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Life Stories #85: Kim Addonizio

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 04:47:36 +0000

I didn't realize until well into my conversation with Kim Addonizio that she'd written (but never published) a full-length memoir, a straightforward narrative about the breakup of a longterm relationship, before Bukowski in a Sundress, the collection of autobiographical essays that we'd met to discuss. That got us to talking about rejection and failure, which dovetailed nicely into some of the larger themes we'd been pursuing about finding the right voice for each of these essays—some of which deal with personal relationships, some of which tackle the writing process, some of which play directly with her reputation as a "confessional" poet—and about claiming her space as a woman dealing with all the things women have to deal with in literary culture.

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Peter Bush’s No-Hope Sucklers

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 00:20:36 +0000

photo: courtesy Peter Bush Black Bread is one of those novels that builds slowly, through the accrued detail of seemingly disconnected scenes… or, let’s say, a string of scenes where the narrative throughline is not immediately apparent to the reader. It attracted my attention because I know very little about Catalan culture beyond the fact of [...]

Michael Homolka’s Room Full of Rilke

Sat, 03 Sep 2016 01:00:29 +0000

photo:Tamara Arellano Michael Homolka’s Antiquity is the recipient of the 2015 Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry. (Longtime Beatrice readers may recognize the Morton Prize, as a previous winner, Jordan Zandi, shared his love for Szymborksa with us.) Homolka’s poems play with classical forms, sometimes reminding me of Stephen Burt, but always with an emotional tone [...]

Benjamin Hale & “A Game of Clue”

Tue, 09 Aug 2016 05:06:49 +0000

photo: Pete Mauney I liked Benjamin Hale’s The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, which I reviewed for Shelf Awareness, and I was eager to see what he’d do next. After all, a nigh-Nabakovian novel narrated by an intelligent chimpanzee is a hard act to follow—but The Fat Artist and Other Stories doesn’t disappoint. These stories are more [...]

“A Little Something” Haunts Brian Booker

Mon, 08 Aug 2016 03:19:18 +0000

photo: Paul Crisanti Disease and unease permeate the stories of Brian Booker’s Are You Here For What I’m Here For? in equal measure. Sometimes, like in “A Drowning Accident” or “The Sleeping Sickness,” the two come together in eerie, unnerving ways, and even the stories where disease and illness don’t play a dominant role, like “Here [...]