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.
Deceptively easy to read, One day we’re all going to die is a rich, complex book that encompasses family and connection, friendships, privilege, survival in the face of inherited trauma, Judaism, culture, modern life, and the healing power of creativity. If that seems like a lot, it doesn’t feel like it. Hearst handles it all with ease, and the book is a light-hearted joy.
This isn’t a book that makes decisions for the reader. Murray’s knowledge and reference to other forms of art, schools, and theories is broad enough that the reader can find their own stolen moments of either appreciation or critique. But there are consequences for not having an “intermediary structure” (Murray 51) as simple as a porch that potentially shelters a wild cat.
Many novelists have retold classics from bygone eras. One thinks of Jane Smiley’s retelling of King Lear in A Thousand Acres and Curtis Sittenfeld transforming Pride and Prejudice into Eligible. The fun in reading adaptations lies in seeing how the characters turn out in a new setting, and whether or not the author retains the theme of the original classic.
Ivy’s recovery only begins when the blame, punishment and shaming stops, thanks to an empathetic Freudian psychoanalyst who helps Ivy understand the nature of her illness. Davis’ writing is subtle and powerful throughout the book, focusing on Ivy’s growing sense of self and a slow, nonlinear healing process that rings true.
The author effectively balances an almost all-female cast of characters without falling prey to literary cliches or devolving into a feminist manifesto. In this intimate book centered around different ways of seeing and knowing, Knox takes on the challenge of trying to decipher the messy relationships that women have with each other and does so seamlessly while also highlighting the challenges of female agency in America over the past century.
Fyfe does a terrific job in capturing both the seductive pull of T’s need and his rapid decline and things begin to disintegrate. Told in third person narrative, with T’s point of view, the story follows T’s various attempts to score, sell, find a place to live, and in some odd way, to find meaning. To say that T’s world is grungy would be an understatement, but Fyfe’s writing is consistently rich and poetic.
And so we enter into the fiction with both curiosity and fascination, which Gammon masterfully both milks and sustains as she gives us the details, enough to keep us guessing, like voyeurs, like amateur sleuths, as though we might deduce the truth from her fiction—it’s seduction and frankly ingenious.