Category: Literary Fiction Reviews

A review of Long Island by Colm Tóibín

Tóibín excels at novels from a woman’s point of view. Here he gives a sympathetic portrait of two women shaken by events and hoping for a second chance. The main male characters, Tony and Jim, lack the determination and character of Eilis and Nancy. Unthinking, they grab onto the first thing that comes along.

A review of Zero at the Bone by Christian Wiman

Poetry gives suffering form, and giving suffering form is an antidote to despair.  Yet content matters, too.  For Wiman, much confessionalism is “an idolatry of suffering…an outrage that no person (or group) has suffered as we have, or simply a solipsistic withdrawal that leaves us maniacally describing every detail of our cells.

A review of Lucky by Jane Smiley

Smiley’s underlying theme, however, is the precariousness of this immortality. While presenting Jodie’s maturation  as a woman and artist, she  quietly notes some major historic events of the passing era.

A review of On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

The story begins as a huge flight of monarch butterflies starts their yearly migration to the south. This is a metaphor for Vuong’s migration to America from Vietnam. When the book reaches its final pages, the flight of the monarch butterflies is resumed, and we can see and hear them beating their wings in unison as they continue their journey, many dropping to their deaths en-route.

A review of The Leaves by Jacqueline Rule

Jacqueline Rule makes good use of her legal experience in Luke’s story, which is tragic, spotlighting just how broken the foster system he ends up cycling through is, or how brutal the legal detention system, and the way in which it traumatises rather than helps the young people caught in it.

A review of Turn Up the Heat by Ruth Danon

Light and heat serve as central metaphors for comfort. They represent the warmth Danon so desperately craves as an antidote to the cold she fears. Her fear is deeply rooted in the uncertainty and anxiety that accompany illness and hospitalization.

A review of Review of Pigeon House by Shilo Niziolek

Niziolek does not play safe with any of her stories; ‘The Fisherman’s Wife’, for example, at first appears like a folkloric tale told many times before, but Niziolek’s vengeful twist provides this tale with a squeeze of lemon. There is something gloriously satisfying and almost palate cleansing in the way Niziolek seeks to subvert her reader’s expectations.