August reading: twist your mind (& heart) with Ali Smith’s How To Be Both

In Spring, my editor at Women’s Review of Books asked me to review Ali Smith’s How to Be Both, and I can’t believe my luck. What an incredible book. Because Ali Smith is a genius, she published the novel in two different editions, and both are touching, heart-rending, and intellectually dynamic. My review is finally available in full content here. GO GET THIS BOOK. NOW! Go! I’ll wait here for you to thank me.

On Louts, Shooting Dogs, and Antonya Nelson

It started because I wanted to shoot a dog. In a short story, that is. The stories for my first collection— then my doctoral dissertation— were character-driven epiphanies hinging on a character’s decision to act, or not to act. A story with a gun on page 1 and fired by the ending—this sounded like big, explosive fun. So I shoehorned a dog-shooting into a story that really didn’t need it.

My dissertation advisor looked over my draft and said,  “If you want to shoot an animal in a story, read ‘Fair Hunt,’ by Antonya Nelson.”

Read the complete post at The Missouri Review.

The Nifty Trick of Dan Chaon’s “A Little Something to Remember Me By”

Who would condemn the grieving parents of a long-lost, likely murdered boy? Who would turn these parents’ tears to treacle, their mourning into manipulation— and make the reader hate them, too? Dan Chaon would. It’s a nifty trick. And it’s one of the reasons I adore “A Little Something To Remember Me By,” from Chaon’s second collection, Among the Missing.

Read the complete post at The Missouri Review.