CHARLATAN by Cris Mazza
Kirkus Star

CHARLATAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A chronological compilation of Mazza’s (Something Wrong With Her, 2013, etc.) substantial body of short fiction, spanning the years 1979 to 2013.

Adulterers, introverts, photographers, and people who fish; dog lovers, mediocre musicians, mediocre parents, people on the fringes or moving toward the fringes; people who are pretty sure the fringes are all there is—it's as hard to qualify a typical Mazza character as it is to qualify a typical Mazza story except to say that they're not typical. Using forms that disrupt or interrupt (the he said, she said columns of text in “Is It Sexual Harassment Yet?”; the inset blocks of type running through “Our Time Is Up”), Mazza’s stories explore the interstices between desire and satiation; they roil with queasy fever-dream intensity; they intuit the power of sex, of gender, of domination but neither condemn nor condone its abuses. In this insightfully edited collection, Mazza’s well-earned reputation for guileless depictions of sexuality and for characters who are complicated by their obsessive introversion is on display, as is her equally well-earned reputation for critical insight into the nonbinaries, absences, and mobile social dynamics of post-feminist thought. However, far from being a paean to the author’s role as a scholar, critic, or polarizing auteur within what can loosely be defined as experimental fiction, Mazza’s newest work stands first and foremost as a supremely accomplished body of individual artistry. Again and again, what this collection showcases is Mazza’s rarest of talents: the ability to leave judgment out of exploration, to create characters whose desires may enact violence (both emotional and physical) but whose existence is not an examination of how society “should” react to that violence. Rather, the only societies in these stories are the ones the characters make for themselves. Mazza stays out of it. The reader’s preconceptions should as well.

An impressive compendium of an important career—Mazza’s work shines.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1945883-06-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Curbside Splendor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2017




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