Tag: Book Review

  • Love and Blood

    A Review of Morgan Talty’s Fire Exit By Maud Lavin Morgan Talty’s novel, Fire Exit, is about ill fits among blood, belonging, and love. Set on the Penobscot River with the Reservation on one side and extraneous whites on the other, the story is also about parenting, about stepfathers raising kids with devotion, about missing…

  • Going Somewhere

    A Review of Mesha Maren’s Shae By Leo Coffey I finished Mesha Maren’s forthcoming novel, Shae, just as the sun began to dip along the Southern sky. I work in one of downtown Knoxville’s oldest buildings and after turning the last page, I ventured up to the top floor to overlook the city, something I…

  • A Southern Philosopher’s Manifesto

    A Review of George Singleton’s Asides: Occasional Essays By Donna M. Crow Even though George Singleton claims in the very first line of his Preface which he also calls an Apology, “I hate writing essays. It’s not my gig,” this humbly titled collection, Asides: Occasional Essays, may well be Singleton’s manifesto. Known for his sharp…

  • Our Roots and Where They Grow

    A Review of Sara Johnson Allen’s Down Here We Come Up by Ryleigh Wann How do you create healthy boundaries when that boundary involves blood? What about when you feel so ingrained in a place that your roots can’t help but rot with it? How do you pull yourself out of a syrupy summer in…

  • The Spirits Talk Back

    A Review of Jesmyn Ward’s Let Us Descend By Wes Byers It started with a few drops of rain. As my wife and I, along with a friend, waited in the packed audience in the courtyard of Baldwin Books in New Orleans for Jesmyn Ward to take the stage, we saw one or two umbrellas…

  • The Song Once More

    A review of Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing by Tom Funk Imagine a world where you know from your early teens that the future holds no bright prospects for you. A world where you cannot hope to rise above the rural subsistence farming of your parents. You have no money. Your schools have been substandard,…

  • There’s No Stopping Time

    A Review of Chris McGinley’s Once These Hills by Ashley Holloway Set in 1898, Chris McGinley’s rural noir saga Once These Hills introduces the reader to life in eastern Kentucky on Black Boar Mountain, a world relatively untouched by modernization. Until things change. Right from the beginning, the reader senses the strength and fierceness of…

  • The Savages of Civilization

    A review of Gabrielle Filteau-Chiba’s Feral by John Yohe Gabriëlle Filteau-Chiba has exploded out of Quebec and into the francophone world in recent years, with a “triptych” of bestselling novels. The first, Encabenée, debuted in 2018, while her third novel Bivouac was published in Quebec in 2021 and France in 2022. The English translation of…

  • Will Rusty Jump?

    A review of Benjamin Drevlow’s The Book of Rusty by James P. Austin This seemingly straightforward question belies the complex meditation on unresolved grief, dead-end contexts, and toxic masculinity that animates Benjamin Drevlow’s novel, The Book of Rusty. The question, as asked, begs an answer: yes or no. As a matter of plotting, the question…

  • The Sixties at the Point of a Gun

    A review of Library of America’s Crime Novels of the 1960s by Frank Vatel In 1997, the Library of America published Crime Novels, a two-volume anthology of noir fiction from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. It was a watershed for the nonprofit, whose backlist of reprinted authors—literary giants like Melville and Twain, statesmen like Jefferson…