By John Domini
The English Understand Wool
New Directions has issued Helen Dewitts brief new fiction as a stand-alone text, one of their StorybookND series, a handsome little package. Once its unwrapped, though, out springs a midsummers night dream, a turbulent and amoral comedy, disrupting the sleep with its dodges and masksaltogether a delight. The English Understand Wool offers another spin snowball of a narrative, gathering weight as it slaloms the hills of Dewitts imagination.
On Cormac McCarthyBy Yvonne C. Garrett
In 2005 James Wood in The New Yorker wrote, To read Cormac McCarthy is to enter a climate of frustration: a good day is so mysteriously followed by a bad one. McCarthy is a colossally gifted writer, certainly one of the greatest observers of landscape. He is also one of the great hams of American prose. Now eighty-nine, McCarthys two new novelsat least on the surfacefocus on the tragic relationship between a brother and sister, Bobby and Alicia (Alice) Western. The first, The Passenger, is novel-length and the second (much shorter text), Stella Maris, is structured as a series of therapy sessions between Alicia and her psychiatrist at the psychiatric facility where she has committed herself for the third and tragically final time.
Tiffany McDaniel with Carissa Chesanek
I first learned of Tiffany McDaniels work while shopping around in a bookstore one hot summer years ago. I picked up what I considered a fitting title for that late August, McDaniels first novel, The Summer That Melted Everything. What I didnt expect was to fall desperately for her writing: the lush sentences, the specific details, and the characters that did melt your heart. She isnt afraid to tackle tough subjects, such as race, class, abuse, and trauma, and the impact our actions can have on everyone around us. McDaniel has a knack for creating characters you cant help but want to follow and root for by making even those unrelatable, relatable.
By John Domini
The Last Pomegranate Tree
Since the day I left the desert, declares our narrator Muzafar-i Subhdam, I have met one person after another who is running away. With that, he widens his melancholy embrace: Look at yourselves: who are you but a bunch of ghosts on a ferryboat, running away from something that has no name or color, that cannot be caught or tamed? The mans got a point, in a time when so much of the world is unhoused, but regarding his own case, Muzafars guilty of some exaggeration.
Jasmine Sawers with Kate BernheimerBy Kate Bernheimer
Wonderas in a rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysteriousis a vital response to fairy tales across cultures, old and new. In their debut collection The Anchored World: Flash Fairy Tales and Folklore, author Jasmine Sawers filters Western and Thai tales through their unique sensibility, yielding a curious and curiosity-evoking book with something to wonder at for every reader.
On Anthony Julian TamburriBy Samuele F.S. Pardini
The two books that I have in front of me are at once similar and quite different. What makes them similar is their Italian American context and the semiotic approach that the author, veteran student of the Italian American experience and Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute in New York City, Anthony Julian Tamburri, employs.
Joy Harjo & Haruki MurakamiBy Yvonne C. Garrett
In these two very different works on writing by two very different writers, there is much for fans and for writers alike.
Miranda Seymour's I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean RhysBy Elaine Savory
Seymours hard work and fundamental respect for Rhys is evident all through this biography, but so also are her judgements, omissions, and preferences (in this she is no different than most biographers). But it is good to see Rhys come alive at times as if she could speak back for herself.
Eileen Myles’s Pathetic LiteratureBy Cassie Packard
Rejecting the urge to erase, minimize, or turn away from an unsightly feeling, the writers included in this anthology audaciously inhabit a sentiment that society exhorts its high-functioning citizenry to disown. The beautiful, weird aggregate that results is profoundly, pathetically human.
Luther Hughes with Tony LeuzziBy Tony Leuzzi
Poet Luther Hughes and Rail Contributor Tony Leuzzi discuss Hughes's new book, A Shiver in the Leaves.
Alyssa Quinn’s HabilisBy John Domini
Disorientation is the rule in Alyssa Quinns Habilis, right from the first sentence: The museum is a discotheque.
Robert D. Richardson’s Three Roads BackBy Emily Blackshear
To feel seen in grief, to have your grief witnessed, is powerful and essential. This emotional pull, this beautifully authentic book, continues from Marshalls foreword until the last page of Richardsons final work.
Michael Brenson’s David Smith: The Art and Life of a Transformative SculptorBy Brandt Junceau
This artists life stares back at the would-be biographer, like a gorgon. The author turned a mirror on it. The tale is made to tell itself, witness by witness, snapped off in an unblinking chain of hard short chapters, almost voice by voice. By conscientious decision, maybe a matter of self-preservation, Brenson is a laconic guide rather than interpreter and thankfully, no explainer.