Set against the back drop of American culture and history from the 1970s, the age of politically progressive Protestantism, right up to contemporary times and the expansive hell right wing evangelicals want to make for us all. Letting readers draw their own conclusions, Borofka does this in deft strokes that never seem strident or extreme.
In her latest book of short stories, An Unshared Secret, Ketaki Datta shows her skill with the form, creating a series of twenty short stories set primarily in Datta’s home country of India, mostly in or around Kolkata. The capital of West Bengal is so much a presence in these stories that it almost functions as a character itself, providing more than a backdrop.
The collection is an eye opener, poems made in an environment of incarceration and punishment about life ‘Inside’. About jail, about being a prisoner and the fear and danger of prison life. Most of the poems are coruscating and angry and explore issues of life inside, of loss and anger, pleading for real justice and rehabilitation, often displaying a hard wisdom learnt at the hands of corrupt and cruel prison officers.
No sentimentality is encountered in Beale poems as he writes about life’s wounds and death. Be Quiet About Love demonstrates a philosophy of life that leans towards acceptance and resignation, often he expresses profound thoughts.
Süskind’s dark taste in comedy and clever use of logic permeate every page. Jean-Baptiste’s skill as a perfumer making camouflage, shadowing and eventually murder all possible with a few drops of a home-made fragrance. Like all superhero films or books one fantasises of having said superpower and the fantastical, god-like things one could do with it.
We have a copy of The China Shelf by Jennifer Maiden to give away!
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We have a copy of Tandem by Andy Mozina to give away!
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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.