Tommy Orange and his linked stories in There There

Tommy Orange is a truly talented and revolutionary writer. The concept behind There, There — borrowing and dismantling Gertrude Stein’s comment on Oakland, CA that “There was no there there” — overturns the entire episteme of western culture and consciousness. Yes, there is a there there, Gertrude Stein. You just couldn’t see it. Because your there is not their there.


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Heartbreak Bay; Adrienne Brodeur’s memoir Wild Game

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I couldn’t put this book down. That is the first thing to say about Adrienne Brodeur’s memoir. I was stunned by the way she wove themes of loss, isolation, and guilt throughout the story of the life here, and how at each turn in the narrative the appearance, function, and operation of those feelings made absolute sense. Mother-daughter tales are always a draw, but the events of this memoir absorb one in a unique way. You learn about the narrator and you cluck-cluck at her adolescent mistakes of judgment (if that’s what they are, as in they were generated by her fervent love for her complicated and beautiful mother); you grow up with her and her inner anguish; you break away with relief and happiness for her. You wish you had her necklace, which is a character in the book, I think. I loved the iteration of the importance of having one’s own desire here. The writing is beautifully lucid and inviting. I recommend this book HIGHLY to anyone interested in the memoir genre.

#memoir #writing #desire #character #necklace #anguish #mother #love #adolescent #loss #isolation #guilt #mothers and daughters #wild game #Adrienne Brodeur #lover

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

Book Review

While admittedly — even undeniably — wicked clever and inventive, Monica Byrne’s dystopic novel lacks even a single shelf for a reader to store their emotions. While I understand that this is the condition and peculiarity of postmodernity, the constant shifts in perspective and the fungibility of characters for one another produce mostly a sense of pastiche and not critique (I’m assuming critique was part of authorial intention, if one might for a second be allowed to revive that moribund concept). With the dense semiotic of the elements of the novel being almost impossible to untangle, ultimately making it impossible to identify with anyone or anything, The Girl in the Road obviously a satisfying artifact of postmodernity but affectively draining and cognitively wearying for the reader. The world that Byrne has created is intensely brittle, manipulated, multidimensional and polymorphous, but less focus on the possibilities of pastiche and paranormality and a little more on the meaning and yield even of shifting positions and subjectivities in a compressed time-space would have made the novel more readable and enjoyable.