MixedFull StopGloomy circumstances do drift and fluctuate like our weather in its acute crisis and within those, the women slip. Ho Sok Fong makes us slip with them. Or do we simply relate? ... I needed to read each story in Ho Sok Fong’s collection several times. I wasn’t able to fully follow some of the storylines immediately, I was a bit confused here and there, also a bit underwhelmed with not too much happening, a bit overwhelmed with the metaphorical descriptions of the emotional lives of her characters. Ho Sok Fong didn’t turn the oppression of her female characters into a thrilling adventure.
MixedFull StopIt’s a stimulating pleasure to follow in fits and starts Trisha Low’s ideas and arguments of what it means to be hungry or what it means to be a housewife, and to adumbrate connections that emerge as she dissects the layers of the world as if it were an onion that naturally produces tears. I appreciated Low’s willingness to go far, but not further, laying things out bare without spreading any legs, showing me the guts without paying attention to the empty belly. There is something fascinating in her ability to analyze so clearly, something elegant in her preventing a mess from being one ... Confessional, intelligent. Sometimes the moments are funny. But in the end, in their totality, after 158 pages, those moments pushed me to not care. I was really glad to be done with this book ... It might have to do with form. It might have to do with length ... Maybe it’s not important to like the book as a totality. Being intrigued and inspired by little parts may have been all that was appropriate at this point, all that was possible right now. Maybe this is, more than anything else, about a series of starting points.
RaveFull StopWhat’s so enjoyable about Days by Moonlight is that it turns the act of reading into traveling, and traveling into a constant swaying between wonder and bewilderment where travelers and readers alike are held in balance mainly by the illusion that what they experience is the world and who they are is being part of it ... Maybe the engaging fluidity of Alexis’ writing has to do with his interest in telling the truth, and with the fact that telling the truth has and always will be a form of traveling—from very common places to extremes and back again ... Through his writing André Alexis makes clear that certain experiences can only be brought into existence on the floating road to fiction, even when his language tricks us into ingesting these experiences as if they were real facts ... What is so gripping about the way André Alexis describes these events is his way of showing that it is not just one \'peculiar\' event organized by one group of people, but that the last parade is only the tip of what came before, the very last layering onto something that keeps growing naturally, sickly out of severely contaminated soil.
RaveFull Stop... fills the wide-open gaps with a narrative of \'what could have been,\' makes the absences present in very intimate ways ... The atmosphere [Howe] creates makes the trajectories tangible. There is tension ... What he does reads like America. It’s very complex and very American and out of the many entangled complexities I am curious about the connection between revenge and pleasure, being revenged and being pleasured by that revenge ... The revenge in LeAnne Howe’s Savage Conversations may be situated in the realm of rewriting history. Literature ... Whatever it is, it’s very effective. The images stick. The questions linger.
Jenny Erpenbeck, Trans. by Susan Bernofsky
RaveFull StopJenny Erpenbeck’s book talks a lot about bodies, bodies with black skin and bodies with white skin, bodies with visible and invisible scars, bodies with a place to be and bodies in a vacuum, bodies with supposedly little time left and bodies with supposedly too much time, bodies in limbo outside of time, bodies with a history and bodies without a future ... We get to know the men from Africa through their interactions with Richard, through Richard’s research in books, newspapers, and on the Internet, through the stories the men tell him, through Richard’s speculations ... Go. Went. Gone. Richard keeps going, he keeps trying and stumbling forward into unknown territories — despite bureaucratic obstacles and the presence of the police, despite bitter disappointments that end some of relationships he had started to form with some of his new friends ... And that’s why in the end, he wins me over.