I enjoy fiction with an uncanny bent. The more unsettling the better! Stories of loneliness, obsession & anxiety are my favorites but I'll read anything if the language engages me.
This was a beautiful, moving, stirring epic, about an immortal goddess who, in the thousands of years of her existence, faces many heartbreaks, triumphs, and very dull days, too. Reading the adventures of gods, monsters, and mortals— and learning the who’s-who of the heavenly realm— was a blast. But what I truly loved about this novel was Circe’s development from naive river nymph to self-possessed witch of Aiaia.
It might take an eternity of living to realize the loveliness of human mortality— Circe, in her eternal wisdom, had me convinced by the end of 400 pages.
I re-read Anne of Green Gables last winter and was struck all over again by Anne's magnificent imagination, intelligence, and bravery. Recent adaptations of the book have brought into starker focus the violence and trauma of Anne's past, but something else -- something fun -- that struck me as an adult reader is how hilarious this book is. The banter between Anne and her adoptive mother, Marilla, is comic gold.
This is a story about the stories we write for women and girls -- stories of violence, abuse, victimhood, sex, and misconduct -- and how all stories, no matter how close they hope to get to the truth, are made up. When I started The Burning Girl, I was struck by how different it was from Messud's last book, The Woman Upstairs. Where that book is cynical and chic, this one is earnest and suburban, almost YA in its affect. But like Nora in that other book, Julia is an analytical, voyeuristic narrator, who desires to be seen, understood, and loved -- even while failing to fully see or understand the one she's fixed her own gaze on, her beloved Cassie.
This was my first novel by Baldwin, the book that introduced me to his incredible sensitivity and ability to take on multiple human perspectives. A gorgeous, moving soap opera of a novel set in New York City in the 1950s.
An intelligent, elegant page-turner laced with a central mystery throughout – what happened between the narrator and her once-friend L.? French author de Vigan masterfully balances insights on writing, reading, and identity with a truly thrilling plot. I loved every line and would venture to call this a perfect novel.
This is a novel to be read with all of the attention and appreciation you might give to a particularly rich and expensive bonbon, placed whole on your tongue. It is a portrait of Isadora Duncan at a moment of specific loss -- a moment Amelia Gray has rendered with humor and tragedy, silliness and beautiful sentences.
Eileen immerses you completely in the perspective of its title character Eileen Dunlop, a prissy, perverse, socially-strange, and desperately lonely prison worker, who seems at once seventeen and sixty-five, but is, in fact, twenty-four. Loving Eileen the novel means loving Eileen the character, and I did. I found her both frightening and endearing. And Moshfegh’s incredible structure is such that interlaced within the bleak comedy of Eileen’s life is a sense of hope, and of mystery.
Shirley Jackson has a knack for turning domestic spaces into bizarre and wondrous realms. In We Have Always Lived in the Castle she creates an entire universe from the most domestic of spaces -- the kitchen. Literally an entire universe for the Blackwood sisters, whose dark past, fear of the outside, and simple self-sufficiency drive them to a smaller and smaller existence not only in their community, but in their own home.
I think it has a happy ending, but not everyone agrees. Judge for yourself.
Cake Time follows a young woman through her relationship history, from her teen years through her mid-30s, in an era of “hookups,” when no one is “settling down”. The main character serves as both participant in and witness to a bizarre – at times brutal –sexual landscape A risqué, honest book that manages to portray graphic sex in a way that never feels crass or indulgent – in part thanks to the book’s sensitive and insightful narrator, whom I loved.
A deliciously creepy novel – perfect for Halloween, or any time you’re looking for a spook – that dramatizes the ghastly consequences of eternal youth. Read this, be transported by a story like you haven’t been since you were a kid, and be glad the journey back to childhood goes no further than that…
The Door begins with a shocking confession of murder. Magda, a writer - and the narrator of this story - claims responsibility for the death of her housekeeper Emerence. The novel that follows isn't a traditionally plotted murder mystery, but instead a quiet and existential tale of mortality, guilt, and personal privacy. Fans of Ferrante's Neapolitan series will be drawn to the volatile yet deeply loving bond between Magda and Emerence.
Atmospheric and cerebral musings make up this melancholy and often humorous exploration of solitude. Pond's narrator is a woman with very specific ideas on how to arrange flaked almonds in a bowl of porridge, who throws a dinner party because she has "so many glasses after all." Set against the changing seasons of a small village in rural Ireland, Pond is a pleasurable meditation on the self at home.
In Williams's stories, young girls spout worldly wisdom while grown women languish in gin-soaked passivity. Everyone is distinctively dressed, and there is always food, but no one is ever eating. I can't quite sum up forty-six stories spanning an entire, brilliant career - I highly recommend reading them.
A warm, humane little book about the brutal coldness of bureaucracy. The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a stylish and witty celebration of love and family . . . and a frightening portrait of what happens to our skin and eyeballs when we are stranded in tiny rooms, in hateful jobs.
After Birth is at once an intimate and original tale of new motherhood, and a larger, highly vitriolic critique of the birth industry. It is an exploration, too, of the sometimes tragic failure of female friendship. Ari is a narrator full of rage - at times difficult to love, but always very, very funny and insightful.
Intense, and very moving. A Little Life is a fascinating contribution to the great epics of friendship, romance, and family. Very very dark, yes -- but also compassionate, earnest, and stylistically original.
Excellent, excellent, excellent. In The Story of A New Name, the stakes are raised on themes introduced in the first novel -- friendship, female agency, the acquisition of weath & power, creative endeavor -- yet the ever-forward momentum that made My Brilliant Friend so addicting never ceases. The relationships between characters old and new are, as ever, ever in flux, and increasinly complicated. Elena & Lila's worlds expand, yet their core concerns -- of friendship, romance, and personal striving -- remain.
I adore everything about this book, from the pretty cover and prim prose to the bizarre – yet infinitely reasonable – actions of Frieda and Christina. There is nothing precious about this portrait of two 20th century American women who follow their own self-created codes of living. These ladies are strange, hilarious, and - above all - dead serious.
What I love about working at Antigone is coming across an author like Liliana Heker, whom I never may have discovered otherwise. Please Talk to Me is a sampling of Heker's work published in her native Argentina between 1966 & 2011. This collection is rife with twists, existential insight, and some delightfully creepy -- yet sympathetic -- narrators. Each story is unlike the last. Highly recommended.
Wow. People kept recommending Shirley Jackson to me, and I can see why. Here, the fantastical becomes the everyday, the everyday fantastical. Hilarious, often unsettling. A wonderful introduction to this important and prolific writer.
Lydia Davis is a master stylist. In Can't & Won't she has written strange, irreverent little tales honoring our everyday fears & anxieties.
A series of vivid & terrifying images make up this tale of suburbia – Duplex is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Allow yourself to be swept up – lost, even – in the strangeness, and you will adore this novel as much as I did.
What can you say about a woman who won the Nobel Prize or her fiction? Just that, yes, you really should get around to reading her, because her stories are stranger and more unsettling that you might have imagined… And, of course, beautifully crafted. Fiction at its most empathetic and original.
I'll read almost anything with a pink cover. Usually it pays off, certainly in the case of this slim volume of stories by Danish writer Dorothe Nors. This collection contains psychological portraits of great depth and humor, with acts of violence and desperation so stealthily rendered you'll hardly realize they've crept upon you.
This compact novel features a dinner party hosted by an eccentric, a zombie apocalypse, and a complicated mother/son relationship. Sophisticated and ridiculous. Erudite and very funny. Cesar Aira is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!