Sober and smart writing that evokes the more mannered American stylists of the 1960s and '70s.

THE BUSINESS OF NAMING THINGS

A clutch of well-crafted stories, thick with literary references, that turn on busted relationships between men and women and fathers and sons.

Harold Brodkey, James Joyce, J.F. Powers, Henrik Ibsen—each of these writers finds his way into the eight stories in this first work of fiction by Coffey (Days of Infamy, 1999, etc.). The name-checked authors hint at some of Coffey’s chief concerns—masculinity and faith most prominently—as well as his approach to style. “Inn of the Nations” centers on a priest who’s lost his passion for his calling and pursues an affair with a nun; set shortly after the JFK assassination, the brief story describes how “he’d become hardened to his own sin” but is without religious sanctimony. The broader “Sons” pursues a similar theme, following an alcoholic poet as he worries that his son is complicit in a calamity that makes national news; in Coffey’s hands, the man’s drunken fog reveals his self-loathing even while he busily labors to obscure it. This collection's stories are carefully chiseled, and the prose is sometimes stiff, but Coffey will occasionally cut loose, as in the closing “Finishing Ulysses,” which follows a professor eager to teach Joyce’s classic who’s out on the town in Philadelphia. Though short, the story has an appealingly jazzy, impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness rhythm. (“Smokes you need and why not the bennies. Some jump. Setting sun crashing into the façade of the church over there.”) Most of these stories capture men in decline, but one of the collection’s best is more tender: In “The Newman Boys,” the narrator recalls his brief childhood acquaintance with a neighbor boy diagnosed with hydrocephaly; the story captures the narrator’s narcissism, fears, confusions about adulthood—and, in its closing pages, a sense of how small kindnesses can resonate across decades.

Sober and smart writing that evokes the more mannered American stylists of the 1960s and '70s.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-934137-86-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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