A penetrating collection that glides among an impressive breadth of storytelling modes with warmth and easy brilliance.



A probing and deeply ruminative cross-genre odyssey.

Meidav (Lola, California, 2012, etc.) pulls readers through a series of dreamy, complex, poignant stories with language that is by turns gauzy-poetic and pinpoint-precise but unfailingly inventive. Divided into three sections of short fiction, "Believers," "Dreamers," and "Knaves," the book ends with a coda of two touching and philosophically expansive essays, which, by their curious inclusion, stand as tacit commentary on the membranes of varying thickness and toughness between the fictive and the "real"; the permeability of each to the other. In the first of the two, "Questions of Travel," Meidav recalls, among other things, a visit to Parc Güell in Barcelona, which greatly diverged from both the memory of a previous visit and from the glittering image of a postcard that inspired the trip at hand. The story picks at a thread that runs throughout the tales that precede it, of the disparity between perception and memory and experience, between gloss and exegesis, image and analysis. In “Quinceañera,” Meidav dives deep into the complications and bittersweetness of the decline and demise of a passionate childhood friendship, the messiness and roving loyalties of youth, exploring the disappointments and stagnation of the now-grown narrator, the entanglements of responsibility, and “how blame alone can basically embalm you for life.” In “The Buddha of the Vedado,” a young woman waits for her charismatic boyfriend to get out of prison so they can marry and start a family, amid other deprivations of latter-day Cuba. In another, “Beef,” a Southern swindler who supports his cancer-stricken mother invades unsuspecting people’s homes, forcing freezers full of meat upon them and quickly extracting payment, until a couple he’s marked as easy targets swoops down in an act of retribution like the hand of Flannery O’Connor herself.

A penetrating collection that glides among an impressive breadth of storytelling modes with warmth and easy brilliance.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941411-41-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sarabande

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?