Laney Brooks is a woman in agony, suffering from an undefined malady that makes standard housewife ennui—boredom from carpooling or picking up dry cleaning—look like a picnic. Laney’s despair, ably depicted by Amy Koppelman in her affecting second novel, I Smile Back, is rooted in childhood.
Anyone who saw the 2005 film Old Joy, which is based on the lead story in Livability, will immediately understand what I mean when I say that Jon Raymond is a master at re-creating those feelings of unease and confusion that arise when relationships are at their most precarious. Most of the nine
When Evan Dara’s first novel, The Lost Scrapbook, was chosen in a national fiction competition judged by William Vollmann, then published by Fiction Collective Two in 1995, the only review in the mainstream press compared the book to William Gaddis’s famously ambitious and demanding debut, The
The lead characters in the 1999 movie Being John Malkovich discover a portal that lets a traverser actually be, for fifteen minutes, John Malkovich. When Malkovich himself, learning of the portal, traverses it, he finds himself in a nightmarescape in which everyone is a variously distorted version
How boring does your hometown have to be for Siberia to tickle wanderlust? The narrator of To Siberia, a melancholy novel by Per Petterson, is an interesting test case. Growing up in a Danish village in the ’30s, she and her brother retreat from their grandfather’s drunken binges and their father’s
Scholars have argued that childhood is a relatively recent invention, a concept that didn’t exist until the seventeenth century. If that’s the case, perhaps adulthood is equally suspect. Wouldn’t we be better off admitting that “grown-ups” are merely oversize, car-driving, money-juggling
When Ross Raisin’s debut novel, Out Backward, was published in Britain earlier this year, it created a moderate stir. The book is currently on the long list for the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the accolades he received yielded a lucrative two-book deal. Despite this acclaim, the author has kept his day