Ostensibly Thieves is Valerie’s coming-of-age as she works through and try to escape the constraints of her upbringing and the world in which she lives. The story appears progress in more or less linear ways, however, there is a recursiveness that functions almost as a Möbius strip where time loops around itself and the endpoint of the work is not so much Valerie’s transition as the work itself.
But regardless of genre, these character-driven pieces explore uncomfortable truths and show how patriarchal power structures encourage violence against women, physical and psychological. Each story has new characters confronting different forms of abuse and betrayal. Two high schoolers dealing with body issues bully each other with a mix of fascination and revulsion.
The novel has a splash of colours on the cover, drawn by the author herself, depicting Rhododendron flowers, from which the title of the book is derived. The plural of Rhodendron might be a pointer to sundry memories and characters that people the canvas, and in singular this would be just the protagonist. If we allow our imagination to stretch a bit, it might mean the protagonist and her dear ones, as all are colourful like the Rhododendrons.
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Who we are and what will happen in the future is a notion that is always evolving in her work. She explores what it is to be an individual existing among so many people and the vastness and inspiration of nature and art. And Kate Partridge questions everything, especially decisions and actions.
Shoshonna Rockman’s debut poetry collection, take me for tame, is anything but tame. These are fierce poems, rooted in an exuberant defiance that works through oppression to find triumph.
Ch’anzu’s narrative arc drives the novel forward, as does a mystery that begins to unfold in the the strange confines of the dreamlike village. Through this story, Ch’anzu begins to explore hir own background, trauma and ghosts, that become part of the app being created, self-reflexively looping back to the creative unfolding that the reader is experiencing.
Still hammering away at the keyboard at age 74, T.C. Boyle still maintains his place as America’s grand poobah of literary fiction, particularly displaying his mastery in the short story genre; and this most recent collection of 13 tightly crafted slices of life intermixed with occasional forays into his beloved magical realism prove that he is still at the top of his game.
There is a clear narrative arc that drives the reading forward quickly, but the writing is so sensual and languid that it creates a resistance to that progression. So much transformation happens in the gaps between the action – looking at the ocean, in the silent space of memory, in a moment after birth while looking into a newborn’s face, or even small moments of mindfulness such as noticing the pure green of a paediatrician’s jumper, or a seaweed crown “mossy garlands the circumference of an adult head” floating on the surface of the water.
The language of the novel is captivating and Lutsyshyna creates deep characters and vivid storyline twists while unlocking her talent as a perceptive poet. Lutsyshyna’s depictions of nature landscapes are truly prose poetry.