Read though a few interviews with Christine Schutt and at one point or another, in one way or another, she will say that when it comes to writing, she goes to “uncomfortable places.”
John Edgar Wideman’s “American Histories” might be the best novel I’ve read so far this year. I want to make that clear up-front, because Wideman’s publishers at Canongate appear to be having some difficulty persuading readers that the book is worth anyone’s time.
As an iceberg drifts through a polar sea, it trawls the sea floor and accumulates biological matter, bacteria, fantastic micro-organisms. In much the same way as the iceberg, Kopf herself specialises in finding the light, the unexpected, and the joyful in apparently sterile ground.
Many of the essays in “Not to Read” are about discovery and a love of reading and of books — the book-ness of books, the joy of admiring them, travelling with them, handling them, and, of course, reading them, and not reading them.
Like its namesake and Pikkoro’s totem, “Rubik” is a puzzle that is endlessly formful and formless. This imaginative novel slips between genres, borrowing from the conventions of fan fiction, speculative fiction, and surrealism.
As a young boy living in upstate New York, Jesse Ball believed that when he became an adult he’d assume responsibility for his elder brother Abram. “I knew… that one day I would be his caretaker”, Ball writes in the foreword to his most recent novel, Census, “and that we would live together, could live together happily. As a child I assumed that duty in my mind and it became a part of me.”
Among the most disquieting moments in Gerald Murnane’s Collected Short Fiction is one that effectively makes the book a mirror, capturing the reader’s reflection in its words…