Category Archives: Contemporary

A Little Life

When I read reviews in which people complain that a book is too dark, I usually write that complaint off with a “too dark for you maybe.” Not many books are too dark for me. My favorite author, after all, … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 23 Comments

Dept of Speculation

It’s an ordinary story. A woman meets a man. They fall in love. They get married. They have a baby. And then… Colic, bedbugs, head lice … and all the other ordinary annoyances of life. The unnamed narrator of this … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 11 Comments

Tenth of December

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about short stories is the way they give authors room to play with an idea without having to fully flesh it out or offer a full-fledged plot. Sometimes just a glimpse of … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Short Stories/Essays, Speculative Fiction | 8 Comments

An Untamed State

It was over 100 degrees out in Haiti on the day Mireille Duval Jameson and her husband Michael packed up their son Christophe to take him to the beach for the first time. Just moments after the gates of the … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 10 Comments

The Fever

It started with Lise, rocking in her desk, falling to the floor, and frothing at the mouth. Then it’s Lise’s friend Gabby, then another girl, and another. All falling suddenly ill. What could be causing it? Is it the water? … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 8 Comments

Telegraph Avenue

Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue is about a lot of things. It’s about a particular neighborhood — Brokeland, right on the line between Berkeley and Oakland, with all its ethnic and religious and economic and sexual and historical diversity, and everything … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 9 Comments

Texts From Jane Eyre

oh my god         what this guy this publisher guy is asking me about my favorite canto in Childe Harold that’s like asking someone to pick who’s hotter his half-sister or his cousins it’s literally impossible Mallory … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | Tagged | 14 Comments

How To Breathe Underwater

This collection of stories by Julie Orringer sounds as if it’s going to be miserable. Here we have girls — mostly teenage girls, some younger — going through a familiar collection of life’s cruelties, fears, and humiliations: displacement, addiction, illness, … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 1 Comment

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Clay Jannon has lost his job in the Great Recession, and he really needs to keep a roof over his head. (Not just any roof, either: he lives in San Francisco.) So when he sees a Help Wanted sign in … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 12 Comments

The Likeness

Last year, my mystery book club (we read mysteries, rather than being shrouded in mystery ourselves) read Tana French’s In the Woods. I admit that I was a bit prejudiced against it from the beginning, since it’s a) about a … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Mysteries | 20 Comments