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This bitterly funny observation of the terror and humiliations of falling in love in old age shows Jacobson on fine form. Children's book reviews round-up Fiction for older children. The perils of the real world and magical realism. Torn apart The vicious war over young adult books. Authors who write about marginalised communities are facing abuse, boycotts and even death threats. What is cancel culture doing to young adult fiction? The outgoing US poet laureate talks about her career, and we chat about the work of Alice Oswald, the new Oxford professor of poetry.
The prize-winning novelist on reliving the condition that prompted her collection of essays. Lisa Taddeo I wanted to explore desire, not sex. In her extraordinary book, Three Women, Lisa Taddeo charts the intimate lives of real American women.
The wise man, a short story by Donal Ryan
Kevin Barry I want to get that thread of menace. Reading group Reading group: we're marking Primo Levi's centenary this month. A plea from the 18th century to preserve the shaded peace of a tree-lined walk folds some feminism into its classical allusions. Tips, links and suggestions Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?
Must-Read Contemporary Short Story Collections | Book Riot
A carnivorous reptile divides and cauterizes a town. Crime is a motif—sex crimes, a possible murder, crimes of the heart. Some of the love has depths, which are understood too late; some of the love is shallow, and also understood too late. Amy Gustine exhibits an extraordinary generosity toward her characters, instilling them with a thriving, vivid presence. She tackles eros and intimacy with a deceptively light touch, a keen awareness of how their nervous systems tangle and sometimes short-circuit, and a genius for revealing our most vulnerable, spirited selves.
Tied to their ancestral and adopted homelands in ways unimaginable in generations past, these memorable characters straddle both worlds but belong to none. These stories shine a light on immigrant families navigating a new America, straddling cultures and continents, veering between dream and disappointment. In this down and dirty debut she draws vivid portraits of bad people in worse places…A rising star of the new fast fiction, Hunter bares all before you can blink in her bold, beautiful stories.
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In this collection of slim southern gothics, she offers an exploration not of the human heart but of the spine; mixing sex, violence and love into a harrowing, head-spinning read. Some readers noticed his nimble blending of humor with painful truths reminded them of George Saunders. This collection is as remarkable for its range of emotional registers as it is for its formal variety.
With a tenderness and generosity that catalyzes satirical clarity rather than the cloudiness of sentimentality, Saunders lets his characters puzzle their way through the confines of their own fictional lives, as wounded and joyous and magnificently broken as any among us, the living.
Story #2: When Our Old Stories Hold Us Back
It is a dark timeline, in which reality has outpaced satire, but at least it is a world we have seen before, in the short stories of George Saunders. A Clarice Lispector story is not easy to describe; they are feminist and absurdist, charting familial drama, love affairs, and existential surrealism, wheeling through the preoccupations and modes of twentieth century literary experimentation with a disorientating facility—and disorientation is the point.
Is it all that remarkable that a short story collection by a writer who died in should, in fact, be one of the best collections of the decade that followed? The editor had been working with Barrett for a couple of months on a few stories, and we were publishing one in an upcoming issue. There is drink and there are drugs and moments of shocking violence. There is the steady inescapability of failure and loss, and every so often there are moments of soaringly lyrical writing. The protagonist, born of a Chinese immigrant mother and white father, grows up loving the origami animals that his mother brings to life with her breath, only to spurn his Chinese heritage as he grows older.
Lesley Nneka Arimah calls herself a pessimist. The flaws in this hubristic, quick-fix mindset are immediately revealed when the eponymous man falls from the sky. Arimah tackles the pressures of womanhood, familial relationships, and Nigerian culture, including its religious and social expectations. But a child of many hairs? Being as we are each an entire mind away from another, grief accompanies not only big events but even everyday instances of a missed chance at getting across to someone we care about what we really mean and want.
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Women are harassed in the stories, as much by people as by the unsettling atmospheres around them. Her Body and Other Parties is a masterful reimagining of what the gothic can do and be, creating a world in which the tremendous weight of being a woman is chillingly palpable throughout nearly all of the stories. A friend, a fellow English teacher at the high school where I used to teach, first shared a copy with me when I had my seniors read Dracula , and I read it at my desk, towards the end of the day. Materially speaking, anyway. When I first read this collection, during graduate school, I remember having to stop in the middle and take a break.
The collection was making me feel bad, and almost panicky. It was just too good. It was so good that I felt confident there was no reason for me to ever write another word; Diane Cook had already done everything I was trying to do and more. When I managed to close the door on him, he sat on my veranda and cried.
Especially at her darkest, she is a comedic genius. The title story is equally funny and equally bleak; it also involves water as an adversary, and also the men who used to be your friends.
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At least one of them, anyway. In closing: where is the next book from Diane Cook? Miller is in full command of the Greek tales that she spins into something utterly, brilliantly new. This is a book of magic of mortals, of myths and mysteries, that honors its ancient origins while being powerfully of our time.
The stories range from dystopian near-future to alarmingly real: one is set in a theme park where white patrons get to enact imaginary violence on people of color; another in a department store on Black Friday; a third sees a white man exonerated for the murder of five black children, by chainsaw, after pleading self-defense. But even the far-fetched premises hit disturbingly close to home.
This is a sometimes bleak, surprisingly tender, always vicious debut. Written by: Sue Burke Publish date: February 6 Why it's worth reading: What if a clutch of human colonists landed on an alien planet and discovered that it was home to sentient plants? In Semiosis , an amazingly assured debut novel, Sue Burke takes this simple concept to soaring heights.
In scenes spread across a century, Burke writes deeply believable characters -- young and old, men and women, and life beyond that, too -- and paints her human society and alien ecosystem with equally deft brushstrokes. This is up there with Ursula K. Le Guin: science fiction at its most fascinating and most humane. But when Chung was on the verge of becoming a mother herself, she decided to see what she could learn about her birth family of Korean immigrants.
In this compelling memoir, she tracks that journey, as well as her childhood growing up with white parents in an overwhelmingly white small Oregon town. She writes with clarity, insight, and astonishing generosity about race, adoption, and family. There are stories of friendship, loving and barbed, of the tender violence of familial love, and of the freedom and pain of loneliness. This is a powerful and tender collection. Come on. Written by: Meghan Flaherty Publish date: June 19 Why it's worth reading: When Meghan Flaherty was in her mids, she was in a relationship with her best friend -- a man who never touched her.
What follows takes Flaherty from humdrum New York City dance studios to an intoxicating subculture that had been thrumming, unbeknownst to her, under the surface of her city all along.
Flaherty lyrically captures the essence of the dance, as well as her stumbling journey into self-discovery, with a bit of toe sucking and bad sex along the way. Written by: R.
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But this unique voice gives a surreal sheen to the novel, which makes its gut punches all the more powerful. He sees it for what it is, with all its flaws and pitfalls, but this brilliant, insightful book is hardly the story of a guilty pleasure. Instead, Mann writes about reality TV with his eyes wide open, about what it is and why he loves it. He also writes about who he loves it with, namely his wife, and the result is a twinned exploration of popular culture and personal experience, rich with resonance and nuance.
Mann writes eloquently about powerful moments and characters from reality TV -- his ode to Rob Kardashian is especially intense -- and casts that same searchlight on his most personal experiences, of love, shame, loneliness, and joy. Written by: Sarah Smarsh Publish date: September 18 Why it's worth reading: One of the most simplistic narratives of 21st century America is that of binaries: the heartland versus the coast, real Americans versus the out-of-touch elites, red and blue America. Perhaps no one has punctured that mythology with as much insight and illumination as Sarah Smarsh does in this memoir.