Book reviews
One book review in The Rumpus

One book review in The Rumpus

Can science be sexy? Yes, in stories by Michelle Ross! I wrote a review of her new short story collection, There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, for The Rumpus. Here’s a little excerpt: In the first story of this collection, a girl learns the shocking truth that the world is made of atoms, that “when you get right down to it, it’s all just studs and holes.” Later on the school bus a boy whispers seductively into the girl’s hair: “Man, what else don’t you know?” Read the rest at The Rumpus!

April book reviews: Childhood romances and other adventures

April book reviews: Childhood romances and other adventures

Brief reviews of books by contemporary authors I read this month — along with photos of what I ate while reading. The list is ordered by the level my enjoyment: Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here by Angela Palm (Graywolf, 2016) “I was well acquainted with the sensation of exterior isolation and interior energy, of the power in that juxtaposition.” * A girl grows up in a poor rural Indiana town, in love with the sweet boy next door — who ends up killing two people while strung out on heroin and gets sentenced to life in prison. Two kids, a childhood romance, two divergent paths, a lifetime of desire, unanswered questions, longing — This memoir gave me all the feels! I’m so honored to have gotten the chance to read with Angela Palm at Book Soup earlier this month! There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You by Michelle Ross (Moon City, 2017) “There is a part of me that knows I probably won’t feel so good about this in the morning, but for now I’m spinning with desire. It’s like I’m all tentacles, a giant squid. Give me, give me, give me.” * My full review of Michelle […]

March book reviews: Art, life, and Los Angeles

March book reviews: Art, life, and Los Angeles

Brief reviews of books by contemporary authors I read this month — along with photos of what I ate while reading. The list is ordered by the level my enjoyment: Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz (Knopf, 1977) * “So the artists in Los Angeles just don’t have that burning eagerness people expect. And they’re just not serious.” * Eve Babitz’s book is a sort of ode to LA — a perfect read for a slow day wandering around the sunny city. Eve goes on many strange, fun adventures, from a trip to Bakersfield with a random grape farmer guy who likes her work to drunken threesomes to a blank weekend in Palm Springs. I loved this novel about LA and men and other loose, listless, lazy liaisons. Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (McSweeney’s, 2017) “Like most normal people, my life force ebbed and flowed, ebbed and flowed.” * Patty’s novel is about a 30-something woman in NYC — who goes to her adoptive parent’s home in Milwaukee when her adoptive brother suddenly commits suicide. It’s sad and moving and also funny and wry — and reminds me a bit of another McSweeney’s novel I […]

February Book Reviews: Whole new worlds

February Book Reviews: Whole new worlds

Brief reviews of books by contemporary authors I read this month — along with photos of what I ate while reading. The list is ordered by the level my enjoyment: Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin, 2017) “Curious girls get what they deserve.” * If you haven’t read Ottessa Moshfegh’s stories yet, treat yourself to them now. No one writes self-loathing and disgust quite the curiously addictive way she does. One of the things I love about Ottessa’s writing is her precise, unsympathetic physical descriptions of people. I really admire her panache in taking on writing about people that are difficult to write about — the mentally challenged, the predatorial, the physically deformed — in an unsentimental, matter of fact way. This is my favorite short story collection probably since Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (Dial Press, 1956) “Women are like water. They are tempting like that, and they can be that treacherous, and they can seem to be that bottomless, you know? — and they can be that shallow. And that dirty.” * Giovanni’s Room centers on two young guys that have a confusing affair in 1950s Paris. It’s about love and shame […]

One book review in Los Angeles Review of Books

One book review in Los Angeles Review of Books

Visit Los Angeles Review of Books today, and you’ll find on the front page a new book review I wrote — “To Be Young, Rich, and Screen-Addicted: Lindsey Lee Johnson’s The Most Dangerous Place on Earth.” Here’s a little excerpt: Although the teens in The Most Dangerous Place on Earth never grow up enough to contend with a world beyond their own lives, the novel effectively highlights the perils of sharing anything personal or meaningful today. Anything you say or do can be uploaded onto Instagram, dissected on Twitter, ridiculed on Facebook — the private has become public in a very different way. Read the rest at Los Angeles Review of Books!

January Book Reviews: Heroin, suicide, aliens, and other gods

January Book Reviews: Heroin, suicide, aliens, and other gods

Brief reviews of books by contemporary authors I read this month — along with photos of what I ate while reading. The list is ordered by the level my enjoyment: The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (Europa, 2013) “Did I keep my feelings muted because I was frightened by the violence with which, in fact, in my innermost self, I wanted things, people, praise, triumphs?” * I loved and could so relate to Elena, the protagonist of this novel, who keeps so much of her feelings and desires hidden from others. Simultaneously I often felt infuriated with her — at her inability to speak up when she was wronged, to ask for what she wanted. The domestic violence — and the women’s expectation and acceptance of it — in Ferrante’s novel is a fascinating and disturbing look at the culture of a small Italian town. It’s beautiful and violent and full of dramatic sweeps of feeling. I loved this book — and it ended in an emotional cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to read the next in the series. Earlier: My microreview of My Brilliant Friend, the first of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Army of One by Janet […]