Puberty in a Christian Commune
Review of My Radio Radio, by Jessie van Eerden (West Virginia University Press, 2016), reviewed by Kathryn Schuyler
Set amid the seemingly stagnant waters of an aging Christian commune, Jessie van Eerden’s novel My Radio Radio surges through all the major rapids of the human experience in one brave and breathless literary expedition. The protagonist—quirky and thoughtful Naomi Ruth—navigates the deeply disturbing questions of death, birth, sex, innocence, and God’s hand in it all before she’s even had time to turn fourteen.Read More »
My social media these days is filled with articles, essays, calls-to-action, videos, photographs, memes, and invitations to join Facebook groups, all in response to the results of the presidential election. No doubt your newsfeed looks like mine, especially if you have, as I do, friends and family who live and breathe both sides of the political duel.
I feel as though they’ve left a seat for me at the table. They are waiting for me to enter the fray, to toss in my two cents.Read More »
Review of Teddy Macker, This World (White Cloud Press, 2015), reviewed by William Jolliff
Teddy Macker’s This World makes a strong first impression. The book design is immediately engaging, with an inviting elegance a notch above much small press work. Its most compelling feature, though, is the back cover: it offers a laudatory endorsement by David James Duncan. So the collection has a good bit of curb appeal to live up to. As often as not, the poems hold their own.
The contents are split fairly evenly between traditional free verse and prose poems. Critical attention to the stylistic choices reveals a technique that certainly does not dazzle and that only seldom offers much gratification of its own. That said, the craft is never off in ways that dim what the poems have to offer. Essentially, the style is transparent: Macker has found functional ways to make art with observations of his world, and those observations themselves are the work’s focus. He describes, it would seem, his own method in “Poet”:
Review of Lily Harp: A Novella, by Stacy Barton (Wordfarm, 2015), reviewed by Jim Prothero.
I want to say from the start that calling this a novella doesn’t do it justice. A novella is understood to be a longish short story that got away. I’m not sure who assumed the authority to define such matters, but this little book has certain qualities that force me to conclude that it is a novel. Lily Harp herself, the protagonist for whom the novel is named, is seventeen, orphaned, living with her grandfather on a small island off the Florida coast, and very pregnant. That set-up right there is enough to get it classified as a young adult novel. As a long-time high school teacher, I know teens, especially girls, like to read stories that have an edgy, almost frightening set-up. I have often wondered if this isn’t because they need to confront their own fears or perhaps even memories of evil times. At this point, Lily Harp could have devolved into a string of conflicts, sort of a postmodern tear-jerker for teens. The beauty of this story is that it did not do so.Read More »
In the last 48 hours, I’ve started this blog post, started this blog post, and started this blog post.
As the hours went on, it became increasingly difficult for me to write something that wouldn’t seem polemic or alienating. I’m not one of those writers that can divorce my writing from my context. My hope was that I could give those who are processing, something akin to balm; I know that in order to do that I must acknowledge the wound.
Right now it seems we’re standing on the precipice of…I don’t know what.
None of us do.Read More »