A sometimes-effective parable about art that fails to exceed its modest ambitions.

ERANOS

AN OLD WRITER'S CHRISTMAS STORY

In Stevens’ (Ride a Bright and Shining Pony, 2013, etc.) short story, a writer attends a dinner full of mysterious characters.

An aging author is putting the finishing touches on what he believes will be his final novel when he receives an invitation to a Christmastime dinner party. He sends back an acceptance before continuing to work on his revisions. As a respected novelist, his life has become a sedate routine of writing and seeing his grandchildren on the weekends. But when the night of the party arrives, he finds himself confronted with a scene as intriguing as it is confounding. The elegant venue contains a motley crew of oddly familiar guests, including a dirty infant and elegantly dressed women, who seem to have little in common apart from their excitement at his presence. Soon enough, however, he realizes why they all seem familiar: They’re all characters from his own novels. He enjoys a surreal evening until he has a strange encounter with an enigmatic woman named Evadne—the only character he doesn’t recognize. Some of the five full-page, black-and-white illustrations that accompany Stevens’ short story have a certain charm. Mostly, though, they’re awkward and amateurish—particularly the images of women, whose anatomical proportions bear little resemblance to reality. The story’s tone and concept are reminiscent of a fairy tale’s, and at moments, it strikes just the right notes, as in the author’s ruminations about his success: “Once, not long before he had discovered her after dinner in her chair––dead––he recalled confiding to his wife: ‘You know, dear, I don’t write them—I only write them down.’ ” However, Stevens doesn’t do as much as she could with her tale’s conceit. For the most part, she simply describes her author’s characters instead of having them do anything interesting. Her romantic depiction of Evadne, meanwhile, is both predictable and tiresome.

A sometimes-effective parable about art that fails to exceed its modest ambitions.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Goss Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 57

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more