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Aimee Parkison’s Sister Séance

Sister Séance, the most recent novel by Aimee Parkison, far surpassed my proclivity toward all things strange and unusual and emparted a new context for one of the greatest and most fascinating movements of the 19th century.

Deborah Levy’s Real Estate

What kind of “feminist” would rather be labeled, according to real estate terminology, as “chattel real,” rather than flipping that metaphor literally to “lord of the land?” With all the privileges and advantages real estate offers for wealth building, why just daydream about it if one has book advances and award money to buy a little security? These are questions inevitably raised, but not resolved, in Deborah Levy’s third book in a contemplative memoir series, Real Estate.

Khadija Abdalla Bajaber & Jonathan Franzen

I sat on the beach with Jonathan Franzen’s forthcoming almost-600 page novel balanced on my knees, deep in his version of 1971 America. But as I dove into wave after wave, I was thinking instead of the glorious sea-infused debut by Mombasa-born Khadija Abdalla Bajaber.

Shukri Mabkhout’s The Italian

Despite The Italian's historical focus, the novel casts light on both future and past, dramatizing a sweeping change that doesn’t appear to make much difference.

A Woman’s Worth

We see particular impact of womanly influence in three new literary works (a book of short stories, a memoir, and a novel), all possessing a familiar theme of women in society and the female influences we find every day.

Revolutionary Letters: 50th Anniversary Edition

Where di Prima’s Annals offers first hand testament of what served as the countercultural underbelly of American cities poet and artists of her and Ginsberg’s generation thrived within, and also suffered through, the poems collected in her now underground classic Revolutionary Letters serve as directional guides regarding guerilla activities pushing an information blitz intended to spark cultural revolution.

John Banville’s April in Spain

You don’t need to have read or even know of the late Benjamin Black’s previous Quirke novels, set in the 1950s, to understand and enjoy April in Spain. It’s an exciting page turner with plenty of dark and quirky characters. The cranky Irishman’s crime fans will consider this the eighth novel in the Quirke series of crime novels, even though it’s written by the fellow who shut Black “in a room with a pistol, a phial of sleeping pills and a bottle of Scotch.”

Clare Chambers’s Small Pleasures

Sometimes people come into our life and help us find the truth we have been searching for all along. Clare Chambers (Learning to Swim) explores that idea in her latest novel, Small Pleasures, while keeping us entertained in a mystery behind an alleged miracle.

Lincoln Michel’s The Body Scout

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Lincoln Michel is an enormously talented writer, and one of the things he does exceptionally well is blend genres. I say that because The Body Scout is a mashup of cyberpunk, noir detective novel, and literary fiction centered on the premise of what it means to be human, and well worth the advance buzz it has already received.

In Conversation

Martha Cooley with Catherine Parnell

I met Martha Cooley in 1999 when, as a then-visiting writer in the Bennington MFA program, she gave a series of lectures, one of which covered Milan Kundera. Martha joined Bennington’s fiction faculty, teaching in the program for fifteen years; I was fortunate to study with her there.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2021

All Issues