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An unfailingly well-chosen collection, though one looks forward to more new voices in volumes to come.

Latest installment of the state-of-the–art form annual prize volume, closing in on its first century.

A writer without chops couldn’t get away with time travel that nets the narrator a fetal point of view. Elizabeth Genovise, whose story “Irises” opens this year’s prize collection, dares to take that stance in writing of a woman who “is a few hours away from leaving her marriage and a few days away from ending my life,” planning to terminate a pregnancy in favor of life with a lover. In scarcely a dozen pages, Genovise compresses the entirety of the now-grown woman’s relationship with her mother, and it’s a marvel to behold. The succeeding story, by a young Indian immigrant named Geetha Iyer, is just as marvelous, playing with the conventions of magical realism to imagine a Borges-ian archive that includes islands, polar bears, and a substantial portion of the Arctic Ocean, all neatly filed away in matching envelopes. Asako Serizawa’s story “Train to Harbin” wrestles matter-of-factly with the enormity of war, an old survivor resignedly confessing that “At my age it is time, not space, that is palpable, its physicality reminding me of the finality of all our choices, made and lived.” There is, naturally enough, a meta piece, Frederic Tuten’s “Winter, 1965,” about a writer’s tribulations; Furman is right to say that Tuten “gets everything right,” and he surely does, but it’s a slippery slope. Warhorses Robert Coover and Wendell Berry turn in work that is unsurprisingly excellent—it would be a surprise, that is, if it were anything less, but neither contribution is much of a revelation. The anthology tends to the well tried and already well published, some of whom acquit themselves with better than usual work—Ron Carlson, for instance, a fixture but seldom a standout in such story anthologies, turns in an eye-opening story with the obliquely titled “Happiness.”

An unfailingly well-chosen collection, though one looks forward to more new voices in volumes to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-97111-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

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