RaveThe Dallas Morning NewsAt 173 pages, it\'s brief and sparse—and best absorbed in one sitting. But its punch will sting big-time, in a way that shows of the enormous power of fiction ... the answers Ackerman finds can be hard to take, but necessary to acknowledge ... Buckle up. The unnamed narrator packs a wallop.
Elizabeth H. Winthrop
RaveThe Dallas Morning NewsThe Mercy Seat is a miracle of a novel, with rapid-fire sentences that grab you and propel you to the next page. It\'s the kind of book that makes you want to get out a pencil and diagram its structure and figure out why it\'s so compelling ... Part of the attraction has to do with Winthrop\'s withholding of information, with hints, then pulling the rug out from underneath the reader ... Just know that you\'ll be rewarded if you stick with Winthrop\'s narrative strategy ... This does not mean that The Mercy Seat should be considered, in any way, as fun. It\'s a tragedy, heartbreaking and devastating in its conclusions. It illuminates the ways that racism and hate can tear communities apart, and Winthrop is ruthless — but not didactic — in the telling ... She has done her homework on the Jim Crow era — and nails the details ... It\'s a breakout. It\'s a wonder.
Stefan Merrill Block
RaveThe Dallas Morning NewsStefan Merrill Block frequently covers bleak territory in his novels, and his latest, Oliver Loving, is no exception. Block takes us inside the mind of a comatose West Texas teen who has been hit in the head during a mass shooting on the night of his high school prom ... But Block also has a joyfulness in his writing, perhaps a necessary component since he often mines the dark sides of life – often his own – in his literature ... That, in essence, is what Block is exploring in Oliver Loving – how a town was torn apart by ethnic tensions after the shooting; how Loving’s family fell apart; and how Oliver ended up lying in an assisted-living facility bed, with his mother, Eve, at his side, for 10 years.
RaveThe Dallas Morning NewsIt's not at all unusual for fathers and sons to disagree, even if they love each other. But when you have two big intellects going at one another, as you do in An Odyssey, then the disagreements can be quite enlightening … The memoir brings delight, in part, because it entwines themes of Homer's Greek classic with themes of the author's family: deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home … Mendelsohn uses some of the techniques of Homer in his memoir, making it all the more enjoyable. Specifically, he relies on ‘elaborate circlings,’ as he calls them, to tell the story of his relationship with his father, just as Homer uses these circlings, or ring composition, in The Odyssey.