STICKS: Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard

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Reviewed by Brenna McPeek

Sarah Gerard’s collection of essays Sunshine State reads as an ode to the living, breathing juxtaposition that is the state of Florida.  In her essays (some personal, some journalistic, some a hybrid of the two) she has her authorial finger on the pulse of the people who live there.  She manages to trace the dreams the state breeds, but also pokes holes in these dreams effortlessly and gorgeously, revealing in the process imperfect portraits of humanity trying its best to grapple with The American Dream. Continue reading

STICKS: The Body Toxic by Susanne Antonetta

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Body Toxic by Susanne Antonetta (Counterpoint Press, 2002)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

This review is part of our special issue on books from and of rural America. For more on this theme, check out the issue here.

“We are the Roof Dwellers, the People Who Speak in Darkness; we’re also the DDT People, the Drink-Cadmium People, the Breathing Isotope People.” (137)

How do we think about our bodies? As moving systems of bone and muscle? As vessels to hold our brains in, or a shell to decorate and present to the world? In an article about politics and our fears about the fragile positioning of our own bodies, philosopher and bioethicist Joel Michael Reynolds writes: “… here’s the catch. We aren’t trapped in our bodies. We are our bodies, as philosophers from Frantz Fanon to Simone Beauvoir have argued. These changing, leaky bodies afford us opportunity and choice. If static or permanent, they’d be less bodies and more stones or gods. To be sure, bodies marked by racism, sexism, cisgenderism, classism, and ableism get trapped.” Continue reading

STICKS: St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

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St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopff, 2006)

Reviewed by Leonora Simonovis

In an interview for The Missouri Review (2013), fiction author Karen Russell was asked about her life in Florida and how it has influenced several of her works. She replied by referring to a “matter –of– fact strangeness” that her native state seems to possess. Continue reading

Review: There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights by Laura van den Berg

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Review: There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights by Laura van den Berg (Bull City Press, 2017)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

I am a haphazard collector of fortunes. They live in my wallet and the corners of my coat pockets. Because I know that before long they’ll be lost to the washing machine or a damp grocery store aisle, I sometimes take their pictures. The other day I found one that had floated from a box in the closet and landed on the floor by my desk; it said “Within the month, as you tidy your room, you will find your lost item.” Continue reading

Review: Whereas by Layli Long Soldier

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Review: Whereas by Layli Long Solider (Gray Wolf Press, 2017)

Reviewed by Michelle Mitchell-Foust

I was lost, looking for a wedding in the Valley of Fire, Red Rock, Nevada.  At every curve in the road, I thought the towering stone formations might reveal my friend’s white dress. When it was clear I wouldn’t find the party, I parked the car and wandered into the crevices between the rocks. I waded through the fine, pink sand to the place where I could see the petroglyphs carved into their faces. Around me were creatures who looked rabbit-human, goat-human, and spirals, and horned insecta. I walked deeper into the rock, looking for more of the 3000-year-old language, the setting sun making the world more red. Continue reading

Review: Autumn by Ali Smith

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Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, 2016)

Reviewed by Brenna McPeek

Ali Smith’s multi-faceted novel Autumn tries to do many things—things that, when listed out, seemingly couldn’t (and maybe shouldn’t) all fit into one novel. The novel, the first in a seasonally inspired series of four, takes on the perplexity of post-Brexit England, constructs a refreshing intellectual relationship between a young girl and her elderly neighbor, and poetically ponders the complexities of death, nature and memory. And those are just the major plot players. In Autumn, Smith embarks on a path that proves challenging—as paths dealing with today’s muddled political landscape unequivocally are—and her results are often staggering. But some choices she makes fall short, or maybe don’t go as far as they need to –they result in the reader wondering, for example, why we just spent fifteen or so pages on an infuriating trip to the Post Office for a passport. Smith gives us a lot to chew on, but while many aspects of the novel go down smoothly, others get stuck in your mental molars only to be found weeks later, just as bothersome as they were when you first tried to digest them. Continue reading