‘Blackened Teeth’ Will Devour You

I was once told the pacing for a novella should be no different than that of a novel, just scaled down to an appropriate size. While I can see some argument for that, I disagree. Novellas can pack big stories into a slender volume, but they get to the point much faster. There aren’t asContinue reading “‘Blackened Teeth’ Will Devour You”

‘The Survivors’ Doesn’t Need Murder to Succeed (but it has that, too)

There’s no shortage of mysteries and thrillers set in small towns. That was basically the bread and butter of Masterpiece: Mystery for decades (not that I’m complaining), to say nothing of the dozens of murders Jessica Fletcher solved singlehandedly in her twee little Cabot Cove. Despite the proliferation of cozy mysteries, it’s rare that theyContinue reading “‘The Survivors’ Doesn’t Need Murder to Succeed (but it has that, too)”

Can’t Shake the Underworld in ‘Harlem’

Morally gray characters are a special breed of protagonists (or antagonists). Their actions are one thing, but the reasons creators give for those actions are often far more interesting. In the case of Harlem Shuffle, Colson Whitehead keeps his main character’s reasons simple: money, and a racist social system set up against him. As easyContinue reading “Can’t Shake the Underworld in ‘Harlem’”

Rolling Waves of Lovely Prose Propel ‘Find’

There’s a dreaminess from The Ones We’re Meant to Find, even from the very cover, all soft edges and rolling waves. That sense never really lets up—even though it gets considerably more complicated in the middle—and in the end the yearning and saltwater mean as much, or more, than before. It’s a lovely exploration intoContinue reading “Rolling Waves of Lovely Prose Propel ‘Find’”

Let ‘Riverland’ Take You Away

One thing every lonely kid has is some imaginary escape to another, more magical, usually safer world. (Maybe not-lonely kids have this, too, but I can’t speak to that.) Mine was a copse of trees choking the side of a road far away enough from anyone who cared that they were allowed to grow thickContinue reading “Let ‘Riverland’ Take You Away”

‘Klara’ Shines like the Sun

There are many things Kazuo Ishiguro does brilliantly, but one he does perhaps most uniquely—especially as we move past the glut of thrillers using Gone Girl and/or The Woman On The Train as a comp title—is create a thoroughly unreliable narrator. Unlike the tipsy or mentally ill women who have largely come to define theContinue reading “‘Klara’ Shines like the Sun”

‘Paradise’ has 2/3 of a Great Book

CW: Suicide, Incest, Sexual Abuse There’s this seafood restaurant downtown that is pretty pricy, but once my husband and I were given a gift card for it. The first two courses were incredible—fresh, flavorful, succulent. The third was bizarre and borderline inedible, though we may have just thought it was so gross because we’re unculturedContinue reading “‘Paradise’ has 2/3 of a Great Book”

‘Terra-Two’ is a Dreamy Adventure

We as a species love space. We love stories about breaking the fragile bounds of Earth and venturing forth to see what lies in the lonely dark beyond. We’re fascinated with the idea of sitting in a tin can, far above the world. And we love imagining all the places and things the people whoContinue reading “‘Terra-Two’ is a Dreamy Adventure”

Lots of Magic in ‘Sea’ But It’s Hard to Reach

About forty percent or so through The Starless Sea is a sort of parenthetical tale about a sculptor who tells stories through her work. She first works with clouds and with snow—things that disappear almost immediately. As people demand more permanence in her work, she transitions to different mediums to tell her stories to theContinue reading “Lots of Magic in ‘Sea’ But It’s Hard to Reach”

More Nightmare than Dream in ‘House’

I’ve been recommending Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House to people for months. To the classmate trying to find a way of writing a memoir of her time in the Air Force without resurrecting her past too much. To the colleague arguing that  Choose Your Own Adventures weren’t an effective form of storytelling. To theContinue reading “More Nightmare than Dream in ‘House’”