“My copy of Catherine Lacey’s debut novel is dog-eared to the degree of making all those folded corners pointless. The book is one large dog-eared page, because you don’t have to flip far to find sentences and sentiments that make you pause and stare at the words, those simple marvels, and emit the sort of soft “oh” that usually comes after finishing a poem.”

“You’re nervous today,” I said. “And pretty.”

“Inginir,” [Rochina] said, using the family’s nickname for her husband—the Pashto word for “engineer” was used to describe an educated man—“is coming home today.”

Then, turning to me so only I could see it, she took her delicate hand, balled into a fist, and bit down on her pinky knuckle. She gasped softly, feigning breathlessness, grinned at me, then returned to stirring the stew.

This was sexier than all of the deleted scenes from the [Afghan version of] Titanic combined.

— From The Four Words for Home by Angie Chuang, reviewed for The Rumpus by Molly Beer
“Stroman was convicted of murder. The survivor, Rais Bhuiyan, was tangential to Stroman’s swift trial, where the defense lawyer never even tried to argue that his client was not guilty of the killings. The real battle was in sentencing: the law in Texas (and possibly elsewhere) doesn’t list a hate crime against a stranger as eligible for capital punishment. Even though Stroman declared before and after that he was an “American Terrorist,” bent on revenge for the Twin Tower attack, the prosecution had to use Stroman’s thwarted request for money in the last shooting to elicit the death penalty, only accessible for a murder committed in the course of another crime—in this case, a robbery.”
“Who are these “Holy Ghost People”? I suspect you’ll want to know. They are described this way in the dramatis personae: “a group of men & women who claim to have traveled through space & time to share the true word of god with the people of earth. they walk around in white flowing cloth. the holy ghost people distrust what the people of earth claim to be god & they mistrust what the people of earth claim to be science. they claim to know, & to have been sent by, the real god.””
“First things first: Byrne can tell a damn good story. Too often it seems contemporary literature becomes caught up in lyrical prose or heady contemplations, while nothing actually happens. In Byrne’s book, plenty happens. Her story captivated me within the first chapter. Luckily, at the time I happened to be waiting for a flight that was delayed four hours, so nothing prevented me from reading the novel straight through.”
“A psychedelic drug is a rootkit for the human machine. Swallow the right poison at the proper dosage under the prescribed conditions of doctor or dealer and you may experience the illusory kicks of control. It is as if by some secret backchannel coding you can hack through the holes in our system, modify your mind and mood like rudimentary C++. You may believe that the user has become the administrator. You may believe that the computer really is wearing tennis shoes.”
— Max Vande Vaarst reviews The Making of Miasma by Henry Escaya
“When you hold me there are words for that.
I do not remember the words for that but I remember that there are words.
There are not words for when you do not hold me.
I remember that there are no words in the world so I say them.”
““All novels lack something or someone,” the mother tells us about her own writing. “In this novel there’s no one. No one except a ghost that I used to see sometime in the subway.” After reading Faces in the Crowd, you may notice such ghosts too, here and there, on your way home from work or after a long night out when dawn is finally closing in. Apparitions abound. Start a conversation with them. They’ll answer back.”
“Danielle Collobert committed suicide when she was thirty-eight years old. It’s amazing to think that her first novel, Murder, which she began writing in 1960 at age twenty, didn’t receive an English translation until 2013—amazing in the true sense of the word, as in, like, causing wonder. Because reading this book will make you wonder why it took so long to find its way into English; it will make you wonder how Collobert could have extracted something so deep, so haunting, while still so young.”
Give It to Me is a postmodern Latino picaresque, uproariously funny but punctuated by moments of heartbreak. Palma Piedras is a tough, empathetic survivor. As a woman who’s always identified as beautiful and used sex both as a tool and as a way to compensate for feeling unloved, she’s bitterly facing the sexual double-standard on looks and aging: “Middle-aged guys… despite erectile dysfunction, balding, paunches… managed to get some woman’s attention. And society thought it okay.” And she’s also facing the midlife sadness that knows no gender, the sense of doors closed and chances lost (colored, of course, by her distinctive past).”