Category Archives: Contemporary

Gaby, Lost and Found

One of the (approx. ten billion) things I didn’t anticipate about having kids was that their reading lives would shift so much. Of course I knew their reading level would change. But I suppose I didn’t foresee that what they … Continue reading

Posted in Children's / YA Lit, Contemporary, Fiction | 6 Comments

Broken Monsters

I’m not sure where I first heard about this novel by Lauren Beukes, but I was given the impression that it’s a sort of science fiction mystery. It’s not that exactly. It’s really a straight-up horror novel that reads like … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Mysteries, Speculative Fiction | 6 Comments

Tigerman

Tigerman, the third book I’ve read by Nick Harkaway (after The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker), sneaks up on you a bit. The dynamite opening sentence (“On the steps of the old mission house, the sergeant sat with the boy who … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 8 Comments

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories

It annoys me when I don’t like something but don’t know why. In the case of this short story collection by Hillary Mantel, I can’t come up with much of anything to complain about, but I also don’t have much … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 11 Comments

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