Dreams Upended, With Horror: A Review of Peter Stenson’s “Thirty Seven”

“I know all this,” claims the narrator of Peter Stenson’s scarring and hard-to-shake second novel, “because humans are all fundamentally the same. We are a desk of control switches in a recording studio. Our only differences are the… levels and mixing.” This bleak notion proves a navigational star for the narrative, one that draws us on even as it makes our skin crawl.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Kelly Luce

The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.

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Ghosts of Places, Ghosts in Places: A Review of Jenny Hval’s “Paradise Rot”

Some novels have a sense of place. Jenny Hval’s Paradise Rot drips with it. This is the story of a young woman named Jo, who’s come to study in a country other than her own. Where she’s from and where she is are never crucial to the plot — there’s a brief mention of Jo as Norwegian, and of certain locations in the south of England, but specifics, at least these specifics, aren’t the point here. Our protagonist is far from home, speaking a language that isn’t her first, and living among people with whom she’s out of sync. This is a novel about dislocation, about being out of step with a place. It’s also a ghost story — perhaps several varieties of ghost story.

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“Against Everything”: A review of Steve Anwyll’s “Welfare”

Steve Anwyll’s debut novel Welfare—dropped on Christmas Day by Tyrant Books—is a book that—much like its teenage narrator—takes an antagonistic stance against a lot of things. It is anti-purple prose. It is also an anti-coming-of-age novel, following a young character in that awkward adjustment stage between boy and man as he runs away from home to… find himself, maybe learn a couple life lessons? No. To live on welfare and avoid work and get high as much as possible. I said he was a seventeen-year-old boy, where else would this be going?

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Nathaniel Tower

The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.

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