This summer has brought a couple more book reviews o’ mine:
I have a couple short stories out for submission, and while they’ve received some really, really nice comments from a few editors—especially for the weird little tales they are, one set in a Mongol Kingdom and other in 1891 Vienna—so far neither has found a home yet.
Slightly late to posting: my review of Javier Marías latest novel, Thus Bad Begins went live awhile back at Literal Magazine. I have written about Marías before, having reviewed his penultimate novel, The Infatuations, for The Millions.
Here’s how my review starts, picking up on a line I had mentioned in my review of The Infatuations:
Javier Marías doesn’t want to be “what they call a ‘real Spanish writer.’” These are authors who, Marîas says, prominently feature themes and motifs of classic Spain, including bullfighting and passionate women. While these tropes are certainly absent from his novels, which tend more to involve analytic and voluble narrators dissecting the vagaries of life, Marías is still obviously fascinated with the Spanish character, and with its gestalt, and perhaps that is in no clearer form than in his latest novel, Thus Bad Begins.
My review of Samanta Schweblin’s skin-crawlingly creepy Fever Dream is now live at Literal Magazine. My review, in a snippet:
For Fever Dream is truly less a dream and more a nightmare, although the kind that—like the best of horror—you cannot help but wanting to see through.
In a happy coincidence, the book was named to the Man Booker International Prize shortlist.
Many thanks to Drunk Monkeys for accepting my funny little story “Gaddafi in Drag.” You can read it here. And here’s how it starts:
And then Gaddafi came in, totally in drag. Not just eye shadow, which he was famous for, but a full evening dress, pearl necklace, and hose. Rouge on his cheeks. Four burly female bodyguards tailed him, holstering guns. Besides the slight dip in volume of conversation, no one at the party acted like anything was askance. Gaddafi’s lips were the red, it occurred to me, of that “Say goodbye a little longer” chewing gum, and it was that commercial jingle that played in my head as I watched him walking in heels like he practiced it. It wasn’t like he didn’t have the facial features to cross dress: thin cheeks and high cheekbones like a model’s. (This was before age sunk his face into a permanent scowl, before he insisted on that comb mustache and that sweep of a rug under his chin.) Perhaps this was because I was trained to spot such disguises, but it was obvious to me from the moment he walked in.
Funny enough, this is (oh very very loosely) based on a real story, albeit one that was hearsay on top of hearsay. Of course, for fiction, that’s all part of the fun.
My short story, “Sunsets in Sunny Gardens,” has now appeared in the latest I-70 Review. Thanks to Gary, Maryfrances, Jan and Greg for accepting it. I received my copy in the mail this week and it looks fantastic.
The story opens:
My review of the essential Seeing Red by Lina Meruane has been published over at the Colorado Review. An excerpt:
One evening in New York, Lina Meruane’s body “seize[s] up” and leaves her “paralyzed, [her] sweaty hands clutching at the air.” Just as she reaches to her purse to pick up an insulin shot, a “firecracker” goes off in her head: “That was the last thing I would see, that night, through the eye: a deep, black blood.” The stroke leaves her vision damaged, and the rest of Seeing Red, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, concerns how Lina, a writer and doctoral student, copes with losing and trying to reclaim her sight. Every day threads of blood continue to cloud her vision. “Being like this, in a fog,” she says, “is like being asleep and awake at the same time.” In the aftermath, Lina is unable to put pen to paper.
I particularly liked that the CR stuck the review in both their fiction and nonfiction sections. Clever—and the exact right move for this book, which straddles the two categories.
My review of Colson Whitehead’s absolutely brilliant new novel, The Underground Railroad, has appeared over at The Millions. Read the review if you’d like. Or better, go buy the book.
Ars Technica discusses its impressions of WatchOS 3, and how it may finally make the Apple Watch live up to its promise:
WatchOS 3 has the benefit of a year or so of actual user data behind it, and it shows. Apple had ideas about how people might or should use the watch, and now it’s tweaking those ideas based on things that people are actually doing.
I like, but have been underwhelmed by, my watch. I’m hopeful this can fix a large portion of the issues. Remapping the side button is a big improvement; it’s basically worthless right now. It’s also frustrating that there are not more complications, and that complications that should be useful—like MLB AtBat—rarely work or update quickly enough.
The new issue of Anomaly Lit, featuring my story “The Thing Speaks For Itself,” just came out, and it looks fantastic. “Thing Speaks” is an older story that I reworked a bit before submitting to Anomaly, reworking some sections that had previously never quite felt right. It’s a bleak little piece, but from the tenor of the other pieces in this edition of Anomaly it seems to fit right in.
The editors at Anomaly also asked me to participate in a podcast and talk a bit about the story and my style. I hadn’t done anything like that before, so it was the source of much hand wringing, but I was eventually able to answer a couple questions in (I hope) a coherent fashion.
Thanks for the editors (Lorcán, Roseanna, Oliver and Joseph) for accepting the piece and allowing it to be in such a great journal. (The photography really is fantastic.)
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼You can read the story online here.
The best part is the bringing in the “SCOTUScare” line. Funny for law nerds everywhere, and Scalia fans or haters alike.