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.
The writing in Well Dressed Lies is wonderfully well done at an intelligent level and with a formal tone that fits the time, place, and circumstances of the story. The language is rich, pleasing, and in places, appropriately lyrical. World-building is superb—with the English weather, streets, countryside, and architect so well drawn as to make readers feel like they are there. Seemingly small details add realism and appeal to the novel.
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.
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.
The grim urban setting of Ravage & Son, its violence, cast of criminals from all classes, and atmosphere of pessimism and disillusionment are characteristics of the noir genre. In Charyn’s story, we see a promising youth who was given the chance to make something of himself in the world’s terms, yet chooses a different course for several reasons and eventually is defeated by the milieu he sought to clean up.
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.