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Lidia Yuknavitch’s short-story collection, Verge, opens in the water, with her narrator swimming, where she as a writer and in her writing has always worked strongest. The book closes where she writes happiest and most secure, with “Two Girls” skipping, hand-in-hand. Between this tragicomic frame, her stories character contemporary stages, barb-witted, often violent studies allusive of Shakespeare and Bosch and incessant impending decadence, and compelled by Yuknavitch’s signature bold, searing language, each piece shaping an astounding, often agonizing world rife with harrowing beauty. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci
In mourning Toni Morrison, the world has rightfully renewed its celebration of her Nobel Prize-winning novels. But since early this year, with the publication of The Source of Self-Regard, her nonfiction has resurfaced as well, the tome a vast compilation of her essays, speeches, and meditations showing Morrison’s visionary facets, her bold breadth’s scope exploring the world that long feted her, so that world might realize its own native variety. Ranging from considerations of art not as apart from place, but culturally forming its societies, with especial reflection on literary visions; to lectern discussions on “black matters” creating not only her novels, but in making up her lifetime’s history lived; to poignant, compelling essays confronting what it has meant to be alive amid humanity’s ongoing crises of conscience, the collection not only reaffirms Morrison’s star on the literary canon, but explores the possibilities for living our differences toward the same illuminant end. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci
All she wants for Christmas is a romantic holiday week with her always-working boyfriend.
All he wants is a holiday from his writer’s block he suffers, working on his next best-selling mystery, which his agent is impatient to see.
What author Karen Schaler seems want is to carol her first novel as she did The Christmas Prince, the holiday movie “hit” she wrote last year for Netflix.
What this audience wanted was a merry holiday noël I could read in “one holy” and “silent night,” which Finding Christmas spirits as the gift any holiday lover could wish for. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci
An actor playing King Lear suffers a heart attack on stage in the novel’s opening; at Station Eleven’s end, the actor dies. In each scene between, Emily St. John Mandel characters the globe’s few survivors of an influenza pandemic, her novel neither dystopic nor life-affirming reverent of the human spirit. Rather, Mandel scripts the players who were actors in and audience to Lear’s last performance, Cordelia, Kent, and the Traveling Symphony’s supporting cast trouping among “all the world’s” remaining ruins, ‘stages’ where they still perform Shakespeare, works they remember were once loved, but are now a labour at what has been lost, their tragedy the history they’ve forgotten, their comedy the tempest of artifacts and spritely, puckish remnants they no longer recall how to use, their each stop a performance illuminating whether we all should be, or not be, and really, why. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci
My parents bought me Ball Four for my tenth birthday, two months after its original publication date in 1970, gifting me a life-changing read they probably still rue. Jim Bouton demythicized the American athlete for me, and made human the same legends I had been brought up to revere. In remembering him with his recent death, I elegize Jim Bouton with respect for his wit, his honesty, and most of all, his intelligence, which helped him to become for me my life's first 'Renaissance Man.' ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci