Knocks down literary conventions, sexual stereotypes, the fourth wall, and more in enthusiastic defense of the weird.

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99 ERICS

A KAT CATACLYSM FAUX NOVEL

Serano satirically tackles gender norms, linguistics, hipsters, and more as her fictional character writes a book about dating 99 different people—all named Eric.

Kat Cataclysm is an absurdist short story writer and self-identified “weirdo”—an out bisexual, nonmonogamous “ethical slut” with an interest in baseball, linguistics, and delicious India pale ales. She’s also fictional, a not quite nom de guerre (but still a warrior!) of author Serano, and has a long-held desire to be a novelist despite her self-confessed title of “queen of conflict avoidance,” an unfortunate trait when most novels thrive on conflict. So instead, she commits to a “faux novel” about her “her supposed experiences dating 99 different people named Eric” as she seeks to subvert other conventions of fiction as well, vowing to never overcome adversity or grow as a person along the way. Kat uses these Erics as opportunities to draw out poignant points about gentrification, internalized homophobia, bisexual stereotypes, and the disposability of the gig economy while also obsessing over penis-chewing banana slugs or dealing with the fallout of an internet listicle on the common cold she authored literally going viral. When she sics a roomful of zombified children on a tiresome screenwriter, it’s clear she’s aware of her role as omniscient narrator. Serano has written about gender identity and feminism in her nonfiction books Whipping Girl(2007) and Excluded(2013); she explores many of the same ideas in her debut work of fiction. The writing is conversational in style, and though Kat claims to be uninterested in banal descriptions, the scene-setting in various California locales works well. Kat recalls the Manic Pixie Dream Girls so often used in male-oriented stories, but she’s decidedly more warts and all in her presentation, almost too quirky to function, and enthusiastic about her role as ruler of all the Erics. The result is a lovable composite of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966) and a less murder-y version of Marvel’s Deadpool, using absurdism and humor to break down the fourth wall and the very idea of “normal,” with all its silly little boxes and prejudices. If that makes the book sound serious, it isn’t—and that might be the most effective way it makes its readers think about identity.

Knocks down literary conventions, sexual stereotypes, the fourth wall, and more in enthusiastic defense of the weird.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9968810-4-3

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Switch Hitter Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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