It’s hard not to imagine every review as just a shout into the abyss. It’s why something like “A real stinker!” makes sense: it’s to the point. It says, “I would highly recommend you don’t buy this book.” While Wells’s review of Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar is a work of art and comedy itself, the very nature of critique lends itself to a rant. It’s amusing to plumb the depths of hate. It’s harder to discuss admiration with nuance and fairness. And if discussing it isn’t hard enough, it’s difficult to persuade someone to read a lengthy review written by an anonymous reader on Goodreads.
“When I teach nonfiction, we talk about writing to a question. If you write what you already know, it’s not going to be interesting for your readers. You need to be looking for some kind of a discovery, and so I went to Yale to see what and what hadn’t changed, because my story needed to be contextualized. After hearing from young women that their experiences were just as bad as mine, it floored me. That’s the moment I knew I had a book.”
“I think for me I don’t approach the page with some necessary truth that I’m aware of as I enter a poem. Often my poems start with a story or a fragment that I want to communicate or display for people and embedded in those things is a truth that reveals later.”
In Antonya Nelson’s short stories, I find the way time is handled to be intricately connected with how convincing the particular world is that she has created. While I liked many of the stories in her latest collections, Funny Once (2014) and Nothing Right (2009), there are some I enjoyed more than others. This is, perhaps, to be expected, but what stands out to me about the stories I liked best seems to have to do with memory and how it is recreated.
* Kristie Kachler *
Verdict: The Volta’s latest reviews issue is good.