It’s been a while since I read a novel that was so fully and entirely about people. I’m not sure how that happened, but thinking back to the stories I’ve lost myself in over the past twelve months they’ve all been—in one way or another—about people being defiantly unlike people.
I’m always done in February, I’m done with the winter and with myself and my house and every single thing I own. And there’s something curious, something delightful, even, in taking that worst-version-of-myself moment in the year to talk about love. Goopy, unabashed, brash and honest love.
With every new poem I thought I had understood her full capacity as a poet, as a storyteller, and with every new little world she’d crafted I had to go back—revise what I thought I knew, and fall in love with the artistry all over again.
When I first started reading this collection, I had it by my bedside and had decided to read a story each night before sleeping. This I managed for about two nights, and then concluded there was no way I could sleep after falling into these little worlds of curious haptic truths that Arnett paints.
And that, I think, is a good summation of most of the stories in Machado’s collection. They give you something you haven’t had before, and then leave you very, very thirsty.
Fiona Stafford has written a work that will easily fascinate and educate both old hats and newcomers to the world of tree history. She has that light touch of an author who knows, seemingly instinctively, how to blend complex historical analysis with literary interpretation.
A portable shelter is what Ruth, at one point, calls her pregnant self: her heavy belly, moving her Coorie from the one town to the other, from the one room to another. A shelter, anywhere. But with every story told, every universe we as readers are pulled into, the stories themselves become the shelters we’re allowed to take refuge in.
Three pages into Record of a Night Too Brief my margin notes start up a storm. “Magic realism minus realism and magic?”, the first one says. Then, “Dream world realism”, then, “Fairy tale!”, which is quickly scribbled out, replaced with, “Absolutely not a fairy tale.” Halfway in I gave up on naming a genre and switched to marking passages with exclamation and question marks.
So when I like something, I like it on repeat. I mean this in the broadest sense possible: with books, yes, but also movies, foods, music—which is how I once ended up in the library with a Lana Del Rey song playing on a loop over my headphones. It took about twenty minutes for someone to come over and tell me that my audio jack hadn’t been plugged in proper—and could I please turn off the sound, thank you.