RaveThe Star Tribune...she writes with admirable candor and engaging humor about getting through the worst times in her life and coming out on the other side ... At first, her book can seem to fit in with the self-help genre, but it is more than that. It’s the very personal story of paddling through grief, adjusting to single motherhood, running away from pain, confronting the fear of failing, surfacing and then rising. It’s a comforting read for those who have experienced losses, and an inspiring one for anyone looking to appreciate and see life from an exceptional angle. McInerny’s voice is disarming and her language is sincere. Often, her book reads like a compelling diary, a string of blunt confessions ... Her eloquent observations span subjects from casual sex to her feminist agenda to internet trolls, all the while pulling readers steadily through the beautiful chill of the Minnesota air under piercing blue skies.
Bernardo Atxaga, Trans. by Margaret Jull Costa
PositiveThe Ploughshares BlogThere is not a traditional plot; rather, the book takes a diary form, and thoughts, observations, and memories bump into each other like buoys on the sea. \'I felt confused. Thoughts and memories kept getting mixed up in my head,\' he says. Similar to the desolate Nevada landscape, often whatever Atxaga is trying to convey that is not in the present (his memories of his Basque childhood and fleeting thoughts) feels somewhat incomplete and removed, just out of the reader’s reach ... The most compelling element is the narrator’s relationship with Nevada. He says, \'Night was falling. In the sky, it was hard to tell blue from black.\' The book’s structure is a series of vignettes or distilled moments explored rather than a continuous story. He says, \'The fluorescent light in the kitchen transformed the ingredients of the gin and tonic as he took them from the fridge: the little bottles of Schweppes sparkled; the ice cubes glittered like glass; the green of the gin bottle took on an emerald tone; the yellow of the lemons gleamed like wax.\' ... Atxaga’s writing, \'the voices in [his] memory-stuffed head,\' follows its own rhythms as it inhabits these various places in time. He is an outsider, on the perimeter, even in his memories. Readers will smell the pervasive sagebrush and feel the lurking danger of the Wild West, a place where footsteps quickly disappear in the dry air and always shifting sand.
Dorthe Nors, Trans. by Misha Hoekstra
RavePloughsharesReminiscent of Lydia Davis, Nors sifts through large concepts with concise language, wry humor, and a contained plot ... Often meditating on sadness and separateness, Nors writes Sonja’s life with some emotional distance, yet also, at times, with intense affection. And while the story contains overarching symbolism, metaphors, and analogies (driving as a method of escape and independence, vertigo as a lack of life balance, nature as a grounding force), Nors’s hand remains light, and the effects are subtle and elegant.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneAs Moore reviews books, TV, politics and her own life, she slams into her subjects, lands on her stories. She cuts into the souls of other artists and makes noise. She fearlessly tells the truth about hard things ... Moore approaches writing as a way of ruthlessly reaching toward the reader. You hope that when you reach back you won’t pull away with bloody fingers.
PositiveRain TaxiAuthor of three novels and two short story collections, Christine Schutt, with the exacting grace of a water-skier, takes us prickly places we don’t want to go in her latest story collection ... Schutt’s...ten stories vary greatly in length, but they share an atmosphere, always carrying the sensation of the West...Their plots often pebble like water over skin and dissipate. And the pace is a sprint, always toward the horizon. While Schutt sucks the romance right out of any situation, and even in her flash fiction holds us somewhere longer than is comfortable, she makes us wonder if there is exactly where we should be. Unnerved while taking pleasure in her language, lost among her characters in the never-ending desert, we wince from pain and sometimes from beauty also.
MixedThe Minneapolis Star TribuneLouisa Clark, literary cousin to Bridget Jones, returns in Jojo Moyes’ Still Me, a romance that wraps up like a sparkling bow … There’s the pleasure of peeking in on New York’s skyscraper-high society: glamorous charity balls, exclusive luncheons, and a gleaming house buzzing with cleaners, florists, pet behaviorists, etc. However, these moments soon fizzle and predictable, stiff characters emerge, weighing down the excitement … Moyes doesn’t spend enough time with anyone in Louisa’s life and so their predicaments feel paper-thin.
MixedThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThe Revolution of Marina M. takes place from 1916 to 1919 in Petrograd, Russia, and is told by 16-year-old Marina, a fierce and artistic young woman and aspiring poet living a life of privilege among ‘the cream of the Petrograd intelligentsia’ … Fitch’s first-person narrative is intensely intimate, but Marina’s voice is unfocused and the plot meanders. Marina romantically imagines a photo album of how her life should look, but she often changes direction impulsively, which creates the sense of never knowing her at all. Her surroundings, however, are fascinating and horrifying … The author’s passion seems to reside not with the blizzard of shadowy and forgettable characters, but with Russia itself, exploring its intricate history and soul in good light and bad.