J.C. HALLMAN is a contributor to the Brooklyn Rail.
I’m on the record as having said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating: the most fundamental problem of criticism today is the belief that, by definition, an act of criticism is an act of argumentation.
What you’re probably going to hear about this delicate, intelligent, and conscientiously slight debut memoir—if you haven’t already—is that ultimately it’s a foodie book: the story of a young woman in a bad marriage preparing elaborate dinners for a mother who has fallen ill and who will fail because no meal is medicine enough. That’s all here, but there’s much more to this memoir that will likely be treated only scantly in what is sure to amount to a smorgasbord of praise.
Where the Dead Sit Talking is narrated by a weird kid—kind of innocent, kind of ignorant—named Sequoyah. The story unfolds during Sequoyah’s stint as a foster child during his mom’s period in lockup.