Hello, sorrow

Hello, sorrow

Cécile , make no mistake, is a little brat. But I liked her. I could tolerate her. Because what saves this novel from Cécile’s push-and-pull of admissible naïveté and plain cruelty is the self-awareness of the adult-Cécile that narrates this story. We’re not talking to seventeen-year-old Cécile here—we’re being told about her by a decidedly more sane version of her. We can share in that Cécile’s careful remorse, her frustration with herself, her younger self, and her shenanigans. It’s the gift of hindsight, one that’s never abused as to coerce us into un-subtle meditations on the follies of youth. And it’s this hindsight that, somehow, lets us forgive Cécile her faults—it’s what lets one deal with the seventeen-year-old running amok the French Riviera; after all, who among us haven’t been this stupidly full of ourselves—or wished we were, then. And, perhaps, even now. [Continue reading.]

“The churn of a secret life.”

Our unnamed diarist in her happy-enough marriage with the Dependable Husband. Sure, he’s flawed, but these aren’t shattering imperfections. They’ve dealt with it—she has, she loves him, she knows she does. Why wouldn’t she otherwise? She’s not really unhappy. But. You know. Being not unhappy yet happy-enough doesn’t guarantee your being happy. Being not unhappy [...]

Thirteen Points on The Gospel of Anarchy, Justin Taylor, and my confused sense of Reader Self

#40 of 2011 • The Gospel of Anarchy, by Justin Taylor 1 – September if last year, I read Taylor’s debut short story collection, Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever, and found the experience rather disquieting. There’s immense talent—this author’s voice is definitely fresh [meandering at times, taut at others, glib, sometimes tender—but I [...]

marginalia || Girl Trouble, by Holly Goddard Jones

Have read Girl Trouble, debut collection of short stories by Holly Goddard Jones. Stories set in small town in Kentucky and oh-so-Southern -- but that didn't really come across strongly for me; that is, what I know of the American South's already been filtered through. And, well, I'm one of those unenlightened ones who are yet [...]

Let Us Not Forget About Sadness: A Letter to Ben Greenman, A Week After Reading His Book

Dear Mr. Ben Greenman, Some books just hit me the right way. Your short story collection, What He’s Poised to Do, sure as hell did, and in my saner moments, I wonder if I should be embarrassed. I’m furious with love for your book, and a part of me wants to distance myself from this [...]

“It took us some time. We knew I knew me but we wasn’t sure, and so stood there trading platitude futures while we plumbed every inner depth, searching for what had to be there. Each of us trying to remember our name, force it first onto the other one.” — Coming to grips with Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever by Justin Taylor

I've taken a lot of time thinking about what to say about Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever, debut short story collection by Justin Taylor. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I convinced myself that it was going to be my new favorite book although it was months [of agony] before it finally landed [...]

marginalia || Vanishing and Other Stories, by Deborah Willis

I first talked about Vanishing and Other Stories, the debut collection of Deborah Willis, in this post: “It is, well, about vanishing. About disappearances. About someone leaving. About someone staying, and waiting. About the absent one, and how this presence constantly and continuously haunts the one who’s stayed.” “The stories have this thematic clutch,” I [...]