Review by Tobias Carroll Low Town by Daniel Polansky Doubleday; 341 p. Daniel Polansky’s novel Low Town is a violent procedural with an embittered antihero at its center. Daniel Polansky’s novel Low Town is also a fantasy novel, with magicians, supernatural creatures, and metaphysical MacGuffins cropping up at significant moments. The Warden, narrator and protagonist here, is a disgraced ex-cop turned bar owner and informal fixer, the sort of wounded soul one tends to find at the center of noir-tinged […]
Review by Tobias Carroll Shya Scanlon Forecast Flatmancrooked; 273 p. It’s been a good year for encounters with emotional technology in weird fiction. Last fall, Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe gave the reader a time machine powered by sadness; now, Shya Scanlon’s Forecast predicts a future in which houses, cars, and civic centers will be powered by the aftereffects of strong emotions. That technology has a fairly strong thematic role in the novel — […]
Review by Tobias Carroll Barbara Comyns Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead Dorothy, a publishing project; 193 p. Late last year, The Rumpus reprinted Brian Evenson’s introduction to Dorothy, a publishing project’s new edition of Barbara Comyns’s 1954 novel Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead. Evenson’s endorsement, his enumerations of Comyns’s preferred themes and use of language, and some of the imagery cited all combined to pique this reader’s interest in her work. (A rule of thumb: any […]
Review by Tobias Carroll Barbara Browning The Correspondence Artist Two Dollar Radio; 168 p. Barbara Browning’s The Correspondence Artist applies stylistic juxtapositions in welcome and unexpected ways. This novel, Browning’s first, is experimental in structure yet casual in tone. It’s an extended metaphor of a book that nonetheless abounds with insider details, art-world cameos, and precise images — even resorting to the occasional still frame to etch a particular scene onto the mind of the reader. The premise is simple; […]
Reviewed by Tobias Carroll Bryan Charles There’s a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From Open City, 240 p. Bryan Charles’s There’s a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From opens with some words on its creation. “It was written with the aid of contemporaneous personal journals,” Charles writes about this account of his life in New York from 1998 to 2002. It’s an interesting note, in light of what follows, and one that helps to establish the […]
Harper Perennial,( 2010) 208 p. Review by Tobias Carroll Halfway through “Estrellas y Rascacielos,” the third story in Justin Taylor’s collection Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever, there’s an exchange of dialogue that’s at once unexpected and critically important to what follows, both for that story and the rest of the book. The scene is a anarchists’ party at a punk house, where stolen beer is imbibed and ideologically inconsistent tomes sentenced to burn. In one corner, a conversation […]
The thirteen stories in World Takes range in tone from humorous to wistful to apocalyptic. Yet what unites most of them is Waldron’s affection for his characters: whether an aging George Washington impersonator or a cocaine-fueled cubicle drone, Waldron’s treatment of his protagonists is respectful, understanding their flaws while still suggesting the prospect of redemption.