Balancing on the Edge

eowyn-iveyEowyn Ivey’s new novel is a journey and adventure into the wilderness of Alaska and the depths of the human heart. When Sophie Forrester agrees to marry an army man in the 1800s she thinks she is going on his mapping expedition to Alaska with him. When she is told she will have to stay behind they are both devastated. Wife and husband will take separate journeys in an effort to explore the unknown while trying to find their way back to each other.

Sophie and Allen are introduced to us through their own journals and letters of descendants who want to make sure their story is preserved for history. The relationship between the relative and the museum curator, husband and wife, army captain and team, and Alaskan explorers and First Peoples are mixed together with historical excerpts from books, photographs, and artifact descriptions. This novel is a museum within two covers of a particular time and place, and the heartaches and struggles that transcend both. Continue reading “Balancing on the Edge”

Appalachia Noir

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David Joy’s novel, Where All Light Tends to Go, is a journey into the heart of America. A heart that is tunneled through with poverty, drugs, and disenfranchisement and barely held up with hope and dreams for something better. Jacob McNeely is barely an adult and born into a family where crime is the only business. Wanting something better for himself, and to help his high school sweetheart escape, Jacob struggles to disentangle himself from the most difficult of webs, family obligation. When those obligations include murder, Jacob has to decide if he will continue to fight to get out, or be pulled under by his father and family reputation.

A beautiful novel set in rural Appalachia, Where All Light Tends to Go is a deep dive into the heart of a young man. Noir meets character study in this lyric, heart-pounding, page-turner.

David spoke with me via email about his novel: Continue reading “Appalachia Noir”

99 Puzzles to Solve

NinetyNineStoriesAboutGod Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Joy Williams returns with a lightning bolt collection of flash fiction. Each piece is numbered and named and explores the human connection and disconnection with God and the mysterious. This is devotional book for the intellectual, the searcher, and the brave.ninety-nine stories of God is fascinating, thought-provoking, amusing, and profound.

Whether God is in an animal’s fur we have carelessly stripped away or in a message from the universe for one who is grieving this book of stories and parables is in itself a meditation on belief and a journey into the mind of a writer and human who sees the world uniquely.

What I love most about William’s collection is that each story is something I am turning over and over in my mind like rocks in a tumbler, smoothing out the surface of the idea and yet wanting to continue to turn the crank to see what else I will find. As a new reader of Williams, I now want to read her previous works and the works that influenced her and the works she hates to understand her literary sensibilities.

Williams will be read forty years from now, as I am discovering her work forty years from when she started writing. The mark of a great. Continue reading “99 Puzzles to Solve”

New Southern Gothic

Miss Jane Miss Jane is a modern take on southern gothic literature. Miss Jane’s character would have been misunderstood as the freak or grotesque in novels past, but in National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson’s new book, Miss Jane is the innocent, the sun around which the rest of the story revolves, and it is her light that warms the novel. She crushes us with heartbreak and humanity as she stuns us with her strength and the feeling she could be me, she could be you.

In an age in which we are learning see sexuality and gender on a spectrum instead of binaries and look at the soul before anatomy, Miss Jane takes us on an unforgettable journey of being different in the rural south. Born in 1915 in Mississippi, Jane is diagnosed with a rare birth defect that will always set her apart from others. Her childhood doctor befriends her and tries with candor and care to help her navigate a world that does not allow for difference. Based on the experiences of Brad Watson’s own relative, he creates a beautiful atmospheric novel that captures a time in the past with a twist of modern issues, and a coming of age that is both universal and unique. Continue reading “New Southern Gothic”

Your child is not your own…

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“In English there was a word for every object. In Ojibwe there was a word for every action.” LaRose

What would you do if you accidentally killed a child? And not a stranger, not a family you would never see again, but the child of your friend, the child of your family.

A modern mutigenerational masterpiece from Louise Erdrich-Two families are torn apart by a horrible hunting accident. One family’s patriarch accidentally kills the son of his friend, next door neighbor and family by marriage. LaRose is the best friend of the little boy who was killed. His parents decide that to make things right, they have to give LaRose to the family who lost their child. Continue reading “Your child is not your own…”

But what if…

 

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Who should read this: fans of Choose Your Own Adventure, poets, nihilists, optimists, history nerds, musicians, and those searching for meaning in life

The story: A child dies shortly after birth, the same child lives to die in adulthood in a mass grave, the same woman, older, has to explain her life to survive, and so it goes on. Will she ever rest in peace? In a series of five books, the same character will die. Between each book is an intermezzo, a what-if, a turning of the die, chance intervenes, and the character lives on through European history spanning three wars, only one cold. With eloquence, the author creates five different lives, all lived by the same woman. Each voice is distinct, each life a new iteration of what was and what could be. The ultimate Choose Your Own Adventure for adults. Continue reading “But what if…”