RaveVirginia LivingThe narrative is swift and steadfast, and I didn’t have much time to dwell on such ponderings because the writing was so moving and controlled. My Monticello is not a novel; it\'s made up of five short stories and one long story—a novella nearly ... full of wisdom and the woes of our neighbors and our fellow humans. But there is no need for gilding here; everything is raw and beautiful—in its terrifying truth. Instead, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson takes her pen (Seamus Heaney’s fabled shovel) and digs into the dirt, the history of Virginia. Like a museum, a book can hold treasures, but these insights and artifacts are not behind glass; they are before you, living and occurring in the present day. Johnson furthers the Southern tradition, widening its scope and giving us something new to examine and learn from.
RaveVirginia LivingMatrix follows Marie as she makes her own biblical tower of sorts—in a splendidly sacrilegious way ... Marvelously blasphemous ... Though the realism, at first, seems a bit faulty (women with power, lesbians in the Middle Ages?), there’s no reason not to believe that this could have happened and been censured by the history books ... In prose that is poetic but never overwhelming, Matrix seeks to secure a place for women at Christianity’s not-so-round table and does so by being a rebellious book about love and gender roles. And though what Marie builds—and what Groff simultaneously builds through words—could be burned away by an angry mob, the message of a better future will always remain.
PositiveVirginia LivingThe title poems have periods like bulletholes—like a driveby that got flirty. These punctuate the text and make reading interesting connecting through disconnection. With each little phrase, there\'s a choice as to whether to attach the previous one or the proceeding one. Here the author seems to allow the reader the option of deciding how to read the poem, not forcing a concrete idea, a concrete interpretation ... He takes the minute and deconstructs and reconstructs and allows a new perspective to arise from that task ... This collection is not better than his last one, but it goes in a different direction, explores language and form and the spirit. Though at times the collection seems slightly hollow (in what way I cannot completely ascertain or assert), the amount of \'self\' exposed and given over to the reader is startling. Perhaps said hollowness is the lack of maternal involvement ... He gives us enough to see where his opinions and ideas are coming from but not enough to fully dissect and behold a body of flesh and veins and blood and bones. He allows us to see him as much as he wants to.
MixedVirginia LivingThough the scenes of Lucia, her husband Evan, and Rachel sitting together in the living room drinking ginger ale are charming and have an innocent air to them, there isn’t enough meat to their more mature relationship a few chapters later. But perhaps this is purposeful, meant to show how childhood fixations dissipate or become disillusioned as time goes on. Yet, that cannot be it, for Rachel still idolizes the lawyer into her high school years ... I wanted more conflict ... Where’s the struggle of internal emotions? There doesn’t seem to be enough external action to propel internal, cognitive change or reaction ... Gin Phillips wants the reader to see that not all women are victims, that there are some women who instigate trouble for selfish reasons. This, naturally, makes for great reading. Family Law brings together two characters and jockeys them around, showing how a younger generation can follow and then become someone other than mommy\'s little girl.