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.
It’s gobsmacking how much author and prognosticator Lucy Ferris got right in this book, first published in 1997 and reissued in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe vs. Wade. Ubiquitous online access, electronic payments, electric vehicles, environmental destruction, codified discrimination against gays and lesbians — the Lucy Ferris of the 1990s foresaw this current, fraught decade with uncanny accuracy.
There is so much about this book that is compelling. It manages to be both funny and tragic at the same time, without stereotypes or polemic. Though there are moments of bad behaviour on the part of pretty much every character, nothing is over-simplified. There are as many different ways to create art, from Jo’s food or charity work, to the Mirka Mora styled murals of Jo’s waitress Rosa, or the ikebana flower arrangements of Mrs Parish, as there are ways to be a partner, a parent, or a patron.
There’s heartbreak and humor, magic and flawed humanity, disappointment and longing, charming wordplay and breathtaking literary craft, but no happy endings. Cheating husbands and boyfriends abound, as do unreliable fathers, disappointed girlfriends and deceived women stretching all the way back to Eve. Literally.
Bark On is not an easy-breezy read. It has a bleak and cerebral vibe. It’s equal parts surreal and sophisticated. An edge of grit laces everything, but there’s also poetry in the pages, an example being the terms, “A drowning drive” and “The comas of those commutes” appearing only a page apart.
Jonathan Koshy is perpetually the outsider in this story of four friends who are awaiting Koshy’s return at the comfortable residence of Bollywood child Anwar Khan, whose home becomes a focal point for the four friends: Prashant, Dhruv, the narrator, and Jonathan. They come together there on the regular, aging disgracefully and gathering to reminisce over drinks and the odd joint, laughing, supporting one another, and allowing their voices to weave in and out like different parts of the same organism as they recall their youth.
Throughout the text Garza challenges the readers memory of what came before in the text using the window, but also through the pervasive repeated “I remember(s)” that occur throughout the text. Each time a thing is remembered it is changed, slightly altered. Which begs the question, how is what we have read previously in the text altered through both the frame of our own remembrance of it and the continual recollections of the narrator?