by Daddy X
Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff
Aptly titled novel that received a lot of attention in 2015. “Fates and Furies” wound up as a NYT notable book, Amazon Best Book, and a finalist for the National Book Award.
What begins admittedly slow, offers many delights. If you aspire to be a unique stylist, you may envy how Groff spins her craft. Reminiscent of Donleavy, perhaps. But don’t be fooled by the slow start. There is a point in this novel where everything you thought you knew about the main characters and their relationship is turned on its end. The stylist disappears from one’s perception; the story rivets the reader.
The Girl On the Fridge
by Etgar Keret
One of the coolest damn covers I’ve ever seen. Just bent enough to catch my attention in a used book store. I don’t usually buy short stories (Though I just bought a collection of T. Coraghessan Boyle) but this one looked like something I’d be interested in. Some of you know I’ve done several stints as flasher editor at ERWA, so flash fiction is kinda steeped in my bones. I don’t think there’s a story here over three and a half pages. Forty-six of them.
Keret, an Israeli author, is much better known in his home country. A few stories depict the trying political and social life, where danger and hatred are a daily fact. If this were the thrust of this collection, I probably wouldn’t like it as much. Fact is that it’s just one of the myriad subjects he covers, approaching them without preconceived illusion.
Though decidedly not erotica, Keret doesn’t shy away from sex. Or from violence for that matter. What he does quite well is pack a whole lot of punch into very few words.
Reminiscent of both Kafka and our own Garceus, Keret will enlighten, shock, bewilder and enchant. Some stories will make a reader uncomfortable, but I don’t think that would bother anyone here. ;>)
For flash fiction writers, it’s always a case of “Now that I have all these flashers, WTF do I do with them?” Finally, we have our answer. Here’s a guy who has taken flash fiction, and its presentation, to an art form.
Obviously I can’t say enough about this author. In fact, I just bought another of his books. I only hope it’s as good as, “The Girl on the Fridge”.
by James T. Farrell
Yes, the old classic trilogy: “Young Lonigan”, “The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan”, and “Judgment Day”.
Farrell presents, often in Proustian detail, the depressing and squalid Chicago of the early twentieth century. Predecessor to Steinbeck, Algren and Selby Jr. in approach, written in 1932 about life in the ‘teens and twenties. A long work. Again. :>) 900 pages. I do get wrapped up in those long ones.
What comes across immediately is the blatant bigotry and racism of the times, related in the grittiest but frequently dated vernacular. The European country your relatives came from determined your place in life, where you lived, where you went to school. What jobs were available to you and your family. Where you dared to walk, and how often you got beat up if you happened around the wrong corner.
Although we have a long way to go in the bigotry realm, it’s amazing to see how the attitudes of a hundred years ago have translated to the present, and in essence haven’t changed that much. In his stark way, Farrell accomplishes what could be a timeless novel. Certainly we can relate, here in the twenty-first century.
This is a piece I’m truly reading at the moment, about halfway through the second part. If there’s much to add, maybe I’ll review the rest in another ‘What I’m Reading’ fortnight.