The Death of Patsy McCoy by Levi Montgomery

“His death began the moment we saw him. It just took a long time to consummate that death. We began to kill him when we first saw him…”

The Death of Patsy McCoy (Inflatable Rider Press, 147 KB) is a story about a murder, but long before that, it was a story about suicide. The suicide of a small town, the suicide of a new kid seeking acceptance, and the suicide of five young men who would never be able to push aside memories left behind in their childhood, memories that are nothing more than the strewn wreckage of innocence gone lost. Continue reading

Daddy’s by Lindsay Hunter

Lindsay Hunter’s Daddy’s (Featherproof, 210 pages) is a fairly disturbing look at life in a southern rural area, though I think the book probably is meant to depict many rural areas. What the work is able to do, however, is entertain on more than one level through her craftsmanship in voice. The cold, matter-of-factness with which she writes is met in a simultaneous observational sentimentality, which works to then give us an inner clock-working machine we can hear clicking. Have you ever known a girl who has a deadpan sense of humor and this sort of distant manner yet simultaneously is obviously deep in existential thought? That’s what we’re working with here. Continue reading

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

With all books, there is a difference between author and narrator. Sometimes the difference is slight, sometimes great. Omniscient narrators tend to reflect the author’s stance about the story more than, say, first-person narrators, which often strike poses very unlike the authors’, excepting the case of confessional “fiction” (which is not actually fictional). At first I thought the narrator of Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West (Modern Library, 384 pages) spoke without irony, without distance being injected between his voice and the author’s feelings about the story. As I read on, I felt more and more an ironic distance between McCarthy and the narrator. I felt as if McCarthy were telling me to resist this narrative for its excesses, its hyperbole and its superstition and fatalism. Continue reading

The Thin Wall by Cheryl Anne Gardner

This is probably the hardest review I have had to do yet. Prior to The Thin Wall (Twisted Knickers, 124 pages), I had read two previous books by Cheryl Anne Gardner, The Splendor of Antiquity, and Logos, and The Thin Wall is a radical departure from Gardner’s romantic roots into the realms of darker, subconscious psychology and individual philosophies she masterfully delves into in this work.

One word to describe this book for me? Drastic. Continue reading

Yellow Dog by Martin Amis

“Male violence did it.” Martin Amis has a bit of a reputation for making sweeping, declarative statements like this one that ends the first paragraph of  Yellow Dog (Mirimax, 339 pages). I’ve read all of Amis’ books except Pregnant Widow and Koba the Dread (on my list, next) and I’m very familiar with the Amis conception of gender.  I can make sweeping generalizations about his Men and his Women.  Continue reading

The House of Meetings by Martin Amis

House of Meetings (Vintage International)House of Meetings (Vintage International)The House of Meetings (Knopf, 256 pages) is a narrative delivered as a long letter from an unnamed narrator, an 86-year-old Russian man, to his step-daughter Venus, living in Chicago. He is in the midst of traveling back home after many years in the U.S. The point of his journey is to revisit a work camp in the Artic where he had been held prisoner and slave laborer in the 40s and 50s. Particularly, he wants to visit the “house of meetings,” where, late in the labor camp era, the Soviets had begun allowing some prisoners to meet briefly with their wives. The narrator’s brother, Lev, Continue reading