Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘Farrar Straus and Giroux’

Reviews |

East of the West: A Country in Stories, by Miroslav Penkov

Bulgarian-American author Miroslav Penkov’s debut short story collection East of the West (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) comes at a time when his native country’s literary star is on the rise in the west. In this auspicious moment, Penkov delivers a heck of a book.


Reviews |

The House on Salt Hay Road, by Carin Clevidence

Carin Clevidence’s debut novel, The House on Salt Hay Road, tells the story of three generations of the Scudder family living on Long Island in the 1930s just before a catastrophic hurricane moves in. This novel’s careful balance of happiness and tragedy, success and failure, leads Dana Staves to consider how the writing achieves this alchemy.


Reviews |

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

As the swirl of publicity surrounding Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom begins to settle, Scott F. Parker makes the case for a novel that transcends time and place because it captures them so faithfully. Parker also looks at how Franzen’s difficult characters reveal our own prejudices. Later in the week: Parker looks back at The Corrections, nearly a decade after publication.


Reviews |

A Better Angel, by Chris Adrian

The stories in Chris Adrian’s third book (and first story collection) are idealistic, relentlessly imaginative and existentially harrowing—(Flannery O’Connor/Lorrie Moore) x Kafka=Chris Adrian. Using a unique mixture of shocking imagery and surprising tenderness, Adrian illuminates the pathologies of the trauma-battered, those stricken by grief or illness who choose to funnel their angst into healing or annihilating activities. The results are individual, startling, and luminous.


Reviews |

Home, by Marilynne Robinson

Jack Boughton returns home to Gilead, Iowa after a twenty-year, largely silent absence, offering his family no details about those lost years or the cause of his return. Home is a quiet book, one without dramatic plot devices; Robinson’s characters carry out the pure weight of life–playing the piano, going to the store, washing dishes– all while facing the ever-present sense of life’s brevity.


Shop Talk |

How Fiction Works Discussion Review: Free Indirect Style

I’ve been trying to read Muriel Barbery’s critically acclaimed novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and while I’m relishing many of the author’s ideas, they feel to me like just that–the author’s ideas, not ones that belong to the book’s characters; a wealthy pre-teen and middle-aged concierge spend at least the first section of Hedgehog (I’m on p. 114) hiding their gifted selves from everyone they know while sharing them, mostly in monologue/journaling style, with us. Their use of language is almost identical, as is their attitude toward (and analysis of) the world around them. So much of the book […]


Shop Talk |

How Fiction Works Discussion Review: Fiction and Social Change

Fiction can change the world. Now that I’ve dropped that lead balloon on my foot, allow me to leave it there temporarily as penance for not only opening with such a clichéd adage, but also a self-aggrandizing one. Worse yet, I believe it. Deeply. Despite how hackneyed a statement, fiction has the potential to change our world. Perhaps not always in the same way as clean drinking water or penicillin, but alter our lives it can. And powerfully so. James Wood touches on this phenomenon in his essay-chapter “Sympathy and Complexity.” He opens with an anecdote about a Mexican police […]




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