A little disappointed in this one after having loved her first collection. It's interesting, but not arresting, though she does have insight into thesA little disappointed in this one after having loved her first collection. It's interesting, but not arresting, though she does have insight into these lives, perhaps beyond what a biographer could address, and is good at choosing salient moments. Some of the almost famous are more famous than others (e.g.,Romaine Brooks). Another is Dolly Wilde (niece of Oscar), which is a neat coincidence since this is the name Caitlin Morgan uses for her lead character in How to Build a Girl. The Shirley Jackson "cover" version of "The Lottery" doesn't fit with the rest. ...more
This is a very readable collection, and Bomer has something real to see about women and self-image and sex. In some ways her work can be compared to tThis is a very readable collection, and Bomer has something real to see about women and self-image and sex. In some ways her work can be compared to that of Mary Gaitskill in its hard-edged honesty, but I don't think she's as good or interesting a writer as Gaitskill. The stories were too much the same, down to the smallest details. I also noticed an off-putting number of grammatical errors (e.g., lay/lie confusion) that weren't in dialogue and didn't seem in keeping with the language overall. I was not in love with the book's title story....more
Now the book is out, I can post my review from Library Journal:
In her debut story collection, Antopol looks deeply into the lives of people whose geogNow the book is out, I can post my review from Library Journal:
In her debut story collection, Antopol looks deeply into the lives of people whose geographies are not easy to define, such as the Israeli journalist who only feels alive when on assignment in Kiev and the California actor who claims more Russian heritage than he actually has, having lived in the United States since he was two years old. Within these compelling narratives, Antopol conveys not only the inner lives of her characters but also the political and social history they carry with them from the sewers of Eastern Europe (an escape route from imminent capture by Nazis) to the Israeli kibbutz to the streets of New York, among other places in the diaspora. VERDICT These rich stories, in many ways reminiscent of the work of Grace Paley (The Little Disturbances of Man), are often sharply funny and always intelligent, and readers will find them immediately appealing...more
In his debut collection, Merkner presents a darkly funny set of stories that look closely at heartland American culture and reflect it back with devasIn his debut collection, Merkner presents a darkly funny set of stories that look closely at heartland American culture and reflect it back with devastating accuracy. In “Time in Normallstorg,” for example, violent war games at a child’s birthday party are not only condoned but encouraged as a means to develop the killer spirit from an early age, and the one parent who complains gets beaten up (and more) by the party’s adult hosts. In “Last Cottage,” the permanent residents of a community doggedly work together to banish the last family from their lakeside vacation home by any means (including massive killing of fish) for the sake of commercial development. But they are perplexed by the resilient cheerfulness of the seasonal visitors, which runs counter to their inbred “Scandamerican” work ethic. Merkner’s relentlessly deadpan reportorial voice is not so different from that of Garrison Keillor (Lake Wobegon Days) or the Coen brothers (Fargo). Going in unexpected directions that evoke both laughter and horror, these stories will appeal to readers who are willing to give in to their sense of the absurd.