“Cults, you know? Why is it people have such a fascination with them?” The question—posed in Peter Stenson’s new novel, Thirty-Seven—is timely. Of late, culture itself seems to have become a sort of cult of cults. Emma Cline’s 2016 Manson-inspired novel The Girls received more press (and a larger advance) than any one book could arguably merit. More recently, there’s the endless parade of news items about the impending Manson film by Quentin Tarantino. It hasn’t even started shooting, but […]
Ask me about my literary influences, and I’ll reflexively cite what I imagine is the usual collection of MFA-program darlings for an American man in his 30s: Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolf, James Baldwin. Then a number of personal fetishes: Julie Hecht, Jane and Paul Bowles, Nicholson Baker, Amy Hempel, R.V. Cassill.
James Tadd Adcox’s novel, Does Not Love, is described by the jacket copy as “one couple’s attempt to overcome loss in an alternate-reality Indianapolis overrun by big pharma.” Strange as it may sound, it’s a near-perfect one-line summary I won’t embarrass myself trying to improve upon. Surreal and intelligent, every moment the book threatens to dip into familiar territory it takes an unexpected turn that deepens everything about the narrative. I hate the employ the old cliché, but I truly […]