Books

FICTION
Seven Days in Rio

Before Francis Levy launches into the narrative proper of Seven Days in Rio, a hundred-odd-page bromide-heavy sexual fantasia, an author’s note appeals its case to the reader in a rare, self-conscious nod to the work’s guilelessly inflammatory inclinations; its tack is less conciliatory than defensive, with the vague hint of a threat.

POETRY
Three Sea Monsters: Our History of Whose Image

Monsters are anomalies of ferocity and size, beings whose grotesque appetites and malformations run wild and contrary to the harmonies of nature. Their scales, claws, fangs, and wings terrify and fascinate. We flee them, but are drawn to them.

In Conversation

REBECCA WOLFF with Jade Sharma

I met with Rebecca Wolff for lunch at Le Pain Quotidien in Chelsea where we talked about her novel, The Beginners, a gothic coming-of-age tale set in a small town.

ANTHOLOGY
Fantastic Women: 18 tales of the surreal and the sublime from Tin House

The introduction to Fantastic Women describes this 18-story collection, all by women writers, as a “flowering” of the surrealist literary movement, and the description is unfortunate. Lovers of fantasy and science fiction may assume the book isn’t for them, and the marker “fantastic” may scare off a more mainstream audience.

FICTION
She or the unknown person

People say postmodern novels can be read in more than one way, and Joanna Gunderson’s new She, due to its quirky collage technique, proves this with a vengeance.

FICTION
Broken Irish

It is 1999 in South Boston, and the streets leading to tragedy are paved with memories of tears and ghosts. In Edward J. Delaney’s second novel we meet six residents varying in age, temperament, and voice, all on separate paths, some of which are seemingly destined to collide.

NONFICTION
Welcome to Utopia: Notes From a Small Town

Karen Valby has done what I’ve always wanted to do: live in a small rural town; and has confirmed what I’ve always suspected: life in a small town is as terrible and perfect as life anywhere else.

FICTION
Mostly Redneck

In a no-frills manner, Rusty Barnes bestows upon us Mostly Redneck (Sunny Outside Press, 2011). Editor of Night Train Magazine, a historied journal respected as a propulsion board for flash fiction writers, Barnes’s editorial taste is a leap from the flash pieces in his recent collection.

RAPID TRANSIT

Hard not to like these talky, breathless, abbreviated “love” songs. “Let me sing. Yes I have done wrong dang it. / It’s how to teach light and turning moving on.”

TRANSLATION
Inferno

Hundreds of translators have sought to render the Divine Comedy with relevance, force, and verve. It’s no easy task, but with a new translation of Dante’s Inferno, this is exactly what Mary Jo Bang aims to do. From all I have seen, Bang’s version is unlike anything that has come before.

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NOV 2011

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