Just keeps getting better as you turn the pages.



Stories that can make you believe that doing cocaine all day in a cheap motel is fun or that catching bugs is a great way to spend your childhood.

Parsons’ debut collection is not long on plot, but wisdom and humor are so thick on the ground you could find a sentence worth quoting on every page. “The first rule of filing is…nothing comes before something.” “There are tricks to coping with a surly person you’ve brought into the world. Focus on the positive.” “I have no idea why sports and religion intermingle—they just do. It seems some people take Jesus for a jock.” Two characters at the Starlite motel in Houston: “There are only two things people do in places like this….And we’ve already done all the drugs.” Only they haven’t—co-workers Jill and Rick are taking a holiday from their lives and from their spouses (code-named Eyelash and Kneecap at a previous happy hour), and new baggies of powder keep turning up right till quittin’ time. They are one of many memorable pairs in these stories, several of which are about the blurry line between friendship and love. The narrator of “Glow Hunter” is crazy about her friend Bo, who is just “more brightly lit than the rest of us.…I’ve seen strangers stop what they’re doing to watch her shake sugar into her tea.” Bo and the narrator have both been involved with a guy named Jeff, but what they really want is each other. The narrator of “Black Light” is in love with a point guard on the girls basketball team; she is counseled, then consoled by her older brother. (“ 'Dick,' he said, done with subtlety. 'She needs dick.' ”) Comparisons have been made to Denis Johnson, Karen Russell, Carmen Maria Machado…and we’ll add Angela Carter. The Angela Carter of Lubbock, Texas. It has a ring to it.

Just keeps getting better as you turn the pages.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-56350-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in...

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This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright.

It’s not for nothing that Ng (Everything I Never Told You, 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs about the planned community itself—attesting to its ability to provide its residents with “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life” in Utopia. But unwelcome change is precisely what disrupts the Richardson family’s rather happy life, when Mia, a charismatic, somewhat mysterious artist, and her smart, shy 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, move to town and become tenants in a rental house Mrs. Richardson inherited from her parents. Mia and Pearl live a markedly different life from the Richardsons, an affluent couple and their four high school–age children—making art instead of money (apart from what little they need to get by); rooted in each other rather than a particular place (packing up what fits in their battered VW and moving on when “the bug” hits); and assembling a hodgepodge home from creatively repurposed, scavenged castoffs and love rather than gathering around them the symbols of a successful life in the American suburbs (a big house, a large family, gleaming appliances, chic clothes, many cars). What really sets Mia and Pearl apart and sets in motion the events leading to the “little fires everywhere” that will consume the Richardsons’ secure, stable world, however, is the way they hew to their own rules. In a place like Shaker Heights, a town built on plans and rules, and for a family like the Richardsons, who have structured their lives according to them, disdain for conformity acts as an accelerant, setting fire to the dormant sparks within them. The ultimate effect is cataclysmic. As in Everything I Never Told You, Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see—and reveal—a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect—like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno—is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege.

With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2429-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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