Hiding out from the heat wave this weekend? Here’s the perfect reading material while you seek out some A/C: FWR’s features from the past two weeks, including three reviews of debut novels and an interview with a veteran:
- Michael Rudin reviews Hesh Kestin’s The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats, observing:
In the end, Iron Will isn’t about denial, it’s about confrontation. The confrontation of a Jewish people against the hardships they faced in World War II—“In melting-pot America [Jews] were heat-resistant, tempered by several thousand years of being close to, if not in, history’s fires”—just as it is about the confrontation and hardships that Black communities were enduring in Alabama—”‘I’m calling on you to do something about what’s happening to your people…Let me put it to you straight, Mr. Royce. Either you march for your people or you march against them.’” […] In the end, Iron Will becomes not simply a confrontation of a boy against his past and future, but a borough and country’s…
- In reviewing Valeria’s Last Stand by Marc Fitten, Laura Valeri calls it
“[a] charming fable about lust and love in the post-Communist rubble of his imagined Zavitar, a village in the hills of Hungary, where life is otherwise as exciting as the turnip crop and the mythically large bottom of the local hairdresser. […] Like all fables, Fitten’s novel relies heavily on the allure of romance, on good will overwhelming malice, and on single-minded determination triumphing over devious cunning.
- Erika Dreifus, of Practicing Writing, reviews Sarah/Sara by Jacob Paul. Along with some incisive commentary on writing about Jewish characters and families, Dreifus notes:
If happiness is what [readers] want, I thought as I returned to Sarah/Sara, they should keep their distance from this novel. But they’d be missing out on something very special. […] For the more discerning reader, one who identifies with and marvels over what Laura van den Berg has lauded as “stories that make my heart hurt,” Sarah/Sara will be an important—and impressive—read.
- And last but not least, Tim Hedges interviews Ron Carlson, who discusses teaching, writing, and “staying in the room”:
Your desire allows you to stay with the project, allows you to stay in the dark, to survive in the dark. If you’re always in the light when you’re writing a story, it’s probably not a story I’d care to read. One of the reasons we continue this very delicious mystery of talking about creative writing is that you can’t learn about the dark by turning on the lights. Everybody has to go off into the dark. And the reason we’re doing it is not for glory, but for our love of our material. That’s the cornerstone.