As He Plays, Darkness Rising: A Review of Rikki Ducornet’s “Brightfellow”

Rikki Ducornet is a national treasure. She has birthed over twenty-three books, illustrated, taught, edited, and contributed greatly to the direction of contemporary American fiction. Brightfellow, her latest book on Coffee House Press, has been touted as her most accessible novel. Many novice readers struggle with Ducornet’s unbridled imagination (the whirling of the universe with all of its microcosms on the tip of a pin) Though I don’t find her work to be necessarily inaccessible, they certainly require an active […]

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A Story Told With Striking Language and Visceral Detail: A Review of Cynan Jones’s “Everything I Found on the Beach”

Cynan Jones’ novel Everything I Found on the Beach, was his second novel in the British Isles released after The Long Dry, which made garnered some favorable reviews after it was published in 2006 and reprinted by Granta in 2014. It is also the second Jones novel published by Coffee House Press (his first with Coffee House Press was The Dig, which Granta published in 2014). Structurally, Everything I Found on the Beach doesn’t break any new ground, as mainly […]

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“Some Dark Eden Where Characters Grow”: A Review of Brian Evenson’s “A Collapse of Horses”

I find myself in a rather complicated relationship with short stories. It is a very unforgiving form. A novel is a bit like a nesting doll. It contains stories within stories and allows for micro successes in ways that a short story often cannot. Certainly, my bookshelves are lined with collections of short stories, but I always reach first for a novel as I’m often more prone to long narratives that provide me an opportunity to lose myself in the […]

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“Vignettes Rife With a Sense of the Fantastic”: A Review of Valeria Luiselli’s “The Story of My Teeth”

I came to The Story of My Teeth a little later than most reviewers so I was a little hesitant to write a book review for it; however, upon finishing it, I felt a little more compelled to do so because it’s one of those compelling reads that you wish your friends were reading, a narrative steeped in wonder, propelled by heartbreaking characters. Valeria Luiselli’s novel is a collection of tales of an auctioneer named Gustavo “Highway” Sánchez Sánchez. The […]

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A Year of Favorites: Duncan B. Barlow

Year end lists are always problematic for me. Sometimes the things that have the most impact on me, things that are new to me, can be a year or a century old. So, I find myself, pulling things off of my shelves and checking publication dates, cursing that they hadn’t been published within the year. I’ve attempted to force myself into the box of a year. Here is a brief list since I am presented continually with things that inspire […]

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“The Burden of Expectations”: A Review of Paul Metcalf’s “Genoa”

We hoist greatness high. We laud the achievements and enshrine the creators, tossing about terms like genius and authentic. There’s no doubt that great works of art deserve recognition. Deserve to be taught and examined and shared and loved. I’m reminded of lectures I’ve given regarding my love for Moby Dick and Herman Melville’s audacity. However, the offspring and relatives of these artists have a much different life. Theirs is a life of desperately trying to escape the ever-widening shadow […]

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“A Riddle That’s Never Meant to be Solved”: A Review of Gregory Howard’s “Hospice”

Hospice is a book that I’ve waited no less than five years to read. I heard Gregory Howard read a section of the work in progress in the spring of 2007 and instantly wanted to have the pages in front of me so that I could dissect the language of it. The section he read was from the first part of the novel—a scene where Lucy, the protagonist, describes her roommates. These eccentric young women do their best to keep […]

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“Between the Colloquial and the Academic”: A Review of Selah Saterstrom’s “Slab”

Slab by Selah Saterstrom Coffee House Press; 186 p. Slab is the third book by Selah Saterstrom on Coffee House Press. Though it is a departure from her previous books conceptually, it still maintains some of the hallmark elements of Saterstrom’s writing that make her books compelling. The novel is composed of segments, broken into acts and the design of the book emulates a play handbill at the start of the book and before each act/chapter. Meat and Spirit Plan, […]

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