Book Reviews Archive

From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

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Ryan’s fourth novel clocks in at just under two hundred pages, and for most writers, telling the story of multiple characters in such a small space would be a challenge. But this book contains worlds. The reader is always searching for those connections, the echoes and strands that insist

Nevada Days by Bernardo Atxaga

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The new, harsh landscape has an immediate effect on the narrator. Reno, to him, is a place with no peace where he exists in a state of permanent jet lag.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

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In Moshfegh’s no-bullshit approach, female friendship is scrutinized not to find genuine affection but to recognize how different personalities can embolden one’s ability to give into their emotional addictions.

The Promise of Failure by John McNally

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McNally is a kind companion who mines his own seasons of discouragement to offer others reasons to persist.

Good Trouble by Joseph O’Neill

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The eleven stories in O'Neill's collection read like a string of understated poems that progress, implode, and digress. They are compelling not only because of his memorable characters but also because of his density and diction.

Kudos by Rachel Cusk

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Cusk's latest novel, the last installment of her much-talked about trilogy, has a deceptively celebratory title.

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors

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Reminiscent of Lydia Davis, Nors sifts through large concepts with concise language, wry humor, and a contained plot.

The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward

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We don’t just grow up with Daley-Ward in this memoir—we grow up with the terrible as well. It is a haunting presence in her life, perhaps an imaginary friend. It is cruel, toxic, impossible to get rid off.

The Boatbuilder by Daniel Gumbiner

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There’s something so gentle about Berg, in his awareness of the world and the people around him. He cares. He has a sense of humor. He wants to turn his life around.

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

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Gabel studied cello for years and her experience is evident as she spools out the plot, repeats motifs and varies the story's tempo and dynamics. Music dictates the structure of the book, too, which is arranged in four parts, like a concerto, with a short coda at the end.