Tender little stories that will make you gasp and squirm.

SLUG AND OTHER STORIES

A revised, expanded edition of Milks’ transgressive debut collection, Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, originally published in 2014.

Twinship, sexual relationships, parent-child relationships, and friendships are the subjects of this hypersexual and hyperconfrontational short story collection. The author pushes every boundary and taboo, exploring how a pairing can result in one person’s dominating another or changing for another. The opening story, “Slug,” establishes the themes of free discovery and creative sexuality. A woman has sex with—and is transformed by—a giant slug following a date with a disappointing man. Human-animal erotic pairings are explored further in “Wild Animals,” in which a VHS bestiality porno “infects” a character’s mind and sexual behaviors: “There, in that other realm, was a rhythm so fixed that bodies don’t need to be.”  Human-tech connections and imaginative pairings of body parts abound in daring tales that challenge certainties about gender, fantasy, and identity. Trans characters and transitions of all kinds are frequent subjects; characters’ genders and identities are malleable: “He and she can mean anything.” The author asks questions about queer communities and how they define themselves. These tales often allude to touchstones like Seventeen magazine, The Babysitter’s Club, My Little Pony, video games, and the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Milks uses the framework or style of the source as a scaffold, but their insights about relationships are fresh and original; these are stories about deep pain, shame, lust, and love. Speculative elements are frequent, as in “The Strands,” in which a woman’s former lover’s hair grows to cover an entire apartment. One of the most arresting tales is “Patrick Gets Inspired,” an autofictional examination of an author’s attempt to write Covid pornography. It deals with infection, consummation, and release: “Spit. Droplets. Breath. Vehicles of contagion. Objects of fear.”

Tender little stories that will make you gasp and squirm.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952177-84-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.

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TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW

The adventures of a trio of genius kids united by their love of gaming and each other.

When Sam Masur recognizes Sadie Green in a crowded Boston subway station, midway through their college careers at Harvard and MIT, he shouts, “SADIE MIRANDA GREEN. YOU HAVE DIED OF DYSENTERY!” This is a reference to the hundreds of hours—609 to be exact—the two spent playing “Oregon Trail” and other games when they met in the children’s ward of a hospital where Sam was slowly and incompletely recovering from a traumatic injury and where Sadie was secretly racking up community service hours by spending time with him, a fact which caused the rift that has separated them until now. They determine that they both still game, and before long they’re spending the summer writing a soon-to-be-famous game together in the apartment that belongs to Sam's roommate, the gorgeous, wealthy acting student Marx Watanabe. Marx becomes the third corner of their triangle, and decades of action ensue, much of it set in Los Angeles, some in the virtual realm, all of it riveting. A lifelong gamer herself, Zevin has written the book she was born to write, a love letter to every aspect of gaming. For example, here’s the passage introducing the professor Sadie is sleeping with and his graphic engine, both of which play a continuing role in the story: “The seminar was led by twenty-eight-year-old Dov Mizrah....It was said of Dov that he was like the two Johns (Carmack, Romero), the American boy geniuses who'd programmed and designed Commander Keen and Doom, rolled into one. Dov was famous for his mane of dark, curly hair, wearing tight leather pants to gaming conventions, and yes, a game called Dead Sea, an underwater zombie adventure, originally for PC, for which he had invented a groundbreaking graphics engine, Ulysses, to render photorealistic light and shadow in water.” Readers who recognize the references will enjoy them, and those who don't can look them up and/or simply absorb them. Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise.

Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32120-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.

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DEMON COPPERHEAD

Inspired by David Copperfield, Kingsolver crafts a 21st-century coming-of-age story set in America’s hard-pressed rural South.

It’s not necessary to have read Dickens’ famous novel to appreciate Kingsolver’s absorbing tale, but those who have will savor the tough-minded changes she rings on his Victorian sentimentality while affirming his stinging critique of a heartless society. Our soon-to-be orphaned narrator’s mother is a substance-abusing teenage single mom who checks out via OD on his 11th birthday, and Demon’s cynical, wised-up voice is light-years removed from David Copperfield’s earnest tone. Yet readers also see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath his self-protective exterior. Like pretty much everyone else in Lee County, Virginia, hollowed out economically by the coal and tobacco industries, he sees himself as someone with no prospects and little worth. One of Kingsolver’s major themes, hit a little too insistently, is the contempt felt by participants in the modern capitalist economy for those rooted in older ways of life. More nuanced and emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it. Kingsolver’s ferocious indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, angrily stated by a local girl who has become a nurse, is in the best Dickensian tradition, and Demon gives a harrowing account of his descent into addiction with his beloved Dori (as naïve as Dickens’ Dora in her own screwed-up way). Does knowledge offer a way out of this sinkhole? A committed teacher tries to enlighten Demon’s seventh grade class about how the resource-rich countryside was pillaged and abandoned, but Kingsolver doesn’t air-brush his students’ dismissal of this history or the prejudice encountered by this African American outsider and his White wife. She is an art teacher who guides Demon toward self-expression, just as his friend Tommy provokes his dawning understanding of how their world has been shaped by outside forces and what he might be able to do about it.

An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-325-1922

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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