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Cole Larsen

FICTION: It Was Better Not to Be Born at All

In her first novel, Living Room, Rachel Sherman singles out the most repulsive of her characters’ experiences: diarrhea, oral sex on a flaccid old penis, suicide flashbacks, screaming matches, and alcohol poisoning. These are experiences which could mark a book as gritty or realistic, but because the characters living them feel unexplored, the ugliness reads as false and gratuitous.


While Greg Ames’s novel, Buffalo Lockjaw, contains all the elements of a classic Buffalo story—snow, sports, drinking, despair—Ames has created a narrator, James Fitzroy, who rises above caricature.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

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