Pithy yet intricately constructed, the ten prose poems in Kristina Marie Darling’s Night Music tease restlessness out from the clutches of a nighttimePithy yet intricately constructed, the ten prose poems in Kristina Marie Darling’s Night Music tease restlessness out from the clutches of a nighttime lull. There’s “The Homecoming,” a study of sound and colors backdropped against nocturnal intrigues. The epistolary “Dearest V.,” evokes the quaint feel of Victoriana and old Hollywood, while “Cantatrice” bristles with surrealist trappings. Gloom in “Ennui” is put forward as convincingly as:
“Since our guests left for the ocean, with its dark enclaves and its low mumbling, the lakes have done nothing but rain. And our dim halls become more cavernous with every evening...” ...more
The bleak and searing tableau that is Meg Tuite’s short story collection, Bound by Blue, skillfully navigates the emotionally fraught structure of humThe bleak and searing tableau that is Meg Tuite’s short story collection, Bound by Blue, skillfully navigates the emotionally fraught structure of human relationships. In story after story, the broken, the dysfunctional, and the scarred survivors prove to be at their most eloquent. They breathe in and out their anguish, putting on display what’s left of their embattled lives.
The book’s main ethos is articulated in the opening sentences of “Break the Code,” a powerful story about a woman coming to terms with the death of her mother.
There is something about an unbroken line that makes me want to rip it apart. All horizontal and level and yet one hit of acid and I detect only ripples, bending, rigorous expansion that doesn’t speak the language of the linear.
The same drive to rip apart “an unbroken line” is what fuels most of the stories in this collection, where even the most mundane of human relationships are shown to be rife with inherent disarray. The same can be said for Tuite’s novel-in-stories Domestic Apparition (San Francisco Bay Press, 2011). Bound by Blue is also peopled by classic Tuite characters—characters that were stunted, occasionally made lean and resilient, by their darkness.
“The F Word,” a deftly told tale of how past traumas don’t ever disappear, is the story of the couple Bob and Audrey, who are both beset by their own respective demons. In what can be misconstrued as an attempt to impose order in an otherwise disorderly life, Bob obsessively measures the ingredients he puts in while cooking dishes for the bulimic Audrey. The titular story, “Bound by Blue,” revolves around the exploits of the irreparably broken Edward, who was sexually abused by his mother, while “The Healer” takes on a tormented character’s search for a Brazilian healer, who was featured in a magazine she happened upon at the dentist’s office. The latter story, a hope-filled redemption quest, finished off the collection—a most telling gesture at the end of a succession of stories that unflinchingly tackled alienation, bitterness, and despair. ...more
The stories in Justin Ker’s The Space Between the Raindrops deftly capture and unravel both the off-kilter and the meditative. In “Portrait of a Girl,The stories in Justin Ker’s The Space Between the Raindrops deftly capture and unravel both the off-kilter and the meditative. In “Portrait of a Girl, Reading,” a revelation is teased out of a completely forgettable sight involving a girl reading a novel at the back of a bus. The intriguing and delightfully absurd “The Bed Thief” raises the specter of alienation, while “Julia Sets” echoes longing. Ker’s stories are robust and keen. I thoroughly enjoyed this book....more
I love how the five stories in Don’t Tease the Elephants do not shy away from confronting harsh realities. There’s the story of a father who discoversI love how the five stories in Don’t Tease the Elephants do not shy away from confronting harsh realities. There’s the story of a father who discovers that his teenage daughter had become pregnant and subsequently had an abortion. There’s the story of a family house burning down, the estrangement of family members, and their hope for a new beginning. In every story, Jen Knox deftly weaves in a little bit of darkness along with startling flashes of beauty and insight. Don’t Tease the Elephants is a handsome sampling of wry, poignant stories that illuminate the human condition....more
From the underwater treasure hunt in Riptide to the Quivira expedition in Thunderhead, and without counting their awesome series of Agent Pendergast nFrom the underwater treasure hunt in Riptide to the Quivira expedition in Thunderhead, and without counting their awesome series of Agent Pendergast novels, Preston and Child have long perfected the machinations of a great commercial novel. The Ice Limit, with its giant meteorite and being-chased-and-fired-upon-by-a-Chilean-destroyer-ship scenes, naturally makes for an entertaining read. The first casualty was a Filipino scientist, who got zapped by the giant red meteorite--which, for me, is a hilarious sociopolitical statement because Filipinos are probably going to not only want to touch a red meteorite but to see it through the national lens of superstition and religion. All in all, The Ice Limit is a spectacular romp that is only slightly marred by an ending featuring a failed attempt to channel cosmic horror. ...more
I read this in one sitting today. Then I realized that there would be no more new Michael Crichton books after I finish his other posthumous novel, anI read this in one sitting today. Then I realized that there would be no more new Michael Crichton books after I finish his other posthumous novel, and what a sad finality to have to finally read what Crichton was reportedly working on when he was battling cancer. Now I'll simply have to make do with rereading his previous books. The choice of Richard Preston, the guy who wrote the harrowing The Hot Zone and oh-yes-yes Cobra Event and whose pedigree includes being a brother to don't-get-me-started Douglas Preston of Preston/Child fame, to finish Crichton's book is perfect. Micro is classic Crichton, the quintessential man vs. natural world theme, the always man "vs." nature and not "with," a distinctive statement by Crichton, strong intelligent women characters, and lots and lots of infodump, which is always a good thing no matter what critics and writing teachers say. And if you are into infodumps, there's the mother lode, Arthur Herzog's Heat, dry as the paper it's written on but still manages to be charming. After reading Micro, I've learned numerous life-saving biochem techniques (viable or not) should someone shrink me to around half an inch in size while I'm having a great time in the middle of a forested area in a volcanic island like Hawaii. ...more