fiction

Paul Theroux Goes East of Suez in ‘Burma Sahib’

Lee Polevoi

At the outset of Burma Sahib, the new novel by esteemed travel writer Paul Theroux, a woman and her husband aboard the ship Herefordshire take an interest in another passenger—a young man standing at the bow looking out to the sea. Who is he? Where is he going?

Irish Life is Bleak and Treacherous in ‘The End of The World is a Cul de Sac’

Lee Polevoi

Louise Kennedy (author of an acclaimed novel, Trespasses) writes beautifully about the Irish and their tumultuous inner lives. In the story, “Hunter-Gatherers,” Siobhán’s fascination with a hare in her backyard turns sour when her lover Sid abruptly puts an end to the wild creature’s life. “In Silhouette” traces a line from the present-day Irish countryside to the Troubles of the 1980s.

New Book Offers Humorous Take on Younger Generation’s Views on Wealth

Glenn R. Miller

On the tree-lined stretch of stately condos and apartment buildings, the structure that had technically been in my possession since 7:37 p.m. two weeks ago Tuesday—the determined hour and minute my father suffered his heart attack—announced itself like Dad invariably did when entering into any setting: loudly, with exuberance, and flashing money.

Stories of Family Life Shine in Tessa Hadley’s ‘After the Funeral’

Lee Polevoi

In several stories, Hadley plays fast and loose with point of view. This may be jarring at first, but readers soon understand there are further twists in perspective yet to come. In “Men,” the point of view flits from one character to another before settling on Michelle, who works in a high-end restaurant, and Jan, Michelle’s long-estranged younger sister, whose hair is “old-gold color, a silky cut, feathered onto her shoulders.”

‘The Sun Walks Down’ Is a Poignant Story Set Against the Landscape of the Australian Backcountry

Lee Polevoi

In 1883, a child goes missing during a sandstorm in the barren landscape of southern Australia. This event sets in motion a range of actions and consequences in and around the small community of Fairly. The teeming cast includes (but isn’t limited to) Denny Wallace, the 6-year-old missing child; his mother, father, and five sisters; a priest undergoing a crisis of faith; two native trackers; a newlywed constable and his wife; and a Swedish exile painter and his wife.

Comedy and Tragedy Collide in ‘I Walk Between the Raindrops’

Lee Polevoi

Boyle's prose flits artfully around on the page, rich in imagery and colloquial phrasing, often delivered via first-person narrators as deeply flawed as any reader could hope for. Sometimes this makes for an awkward balance between comedy and tragedy, but in his best work, Boyle succeeds in nailing a particular vein of (usually) male rage. His latest story collection, I Walk Between the Raindrops, exemplifies the T.C. Boyle brand.

In ‘Learning to Talk,’ Hilary Mantel Conjures a Troubled Childhood

Lee Polevoi

All the stories here are closely observed, showcasing the author’s exemplary skill at painting secondary characters with a simple literary flourish: “Myra was little, she was mere, rat-faced and meager, like a nameless cut in a butcher’s window in a demolition area.” Also, Mantel reliably locates the right sensory details to evoke a childhood disrupted by arcane family dynamics and the ambition to escape provincial life in the North of England.

Beguiling Tales of County Mayo in Colin Barrett’s ‘Homesickness’

Lee Polevoi

In these beguiling stories, we are for the most part steadfastly situated in County Mayo, Ireland. As in Young Skins, this hugely talented writer immerses us in a remote part of the Emerald Isle, serving up (with great sympathy) characters who display his signature mix of humor and melancholy. Life is hard for County Mayo residents, eased only occasionally by flashes of love and warm feelings.

New Graphic Novel Pays Homage to a Kurt Vonnegut Classic

Garrett Hartman

The adaptation translates this perfectly, instead of treating us to panels showing the things Vonnegut describes, the authors instead do what Vonnegut did and tell us a bit about the creation of the original work. Part of what makes the execution of this graphic novel so brilliant is that the authors do not pretend to write as Vonnegut, but narrate this portion as themselves, similarly to how Vonnegut narrates Billy Pilgrim’s story.

A Doctor Slowly Unravels at the Height of the Vietnam War in ‘All Bleeding Stops’

Michael J. Collins

His war begins with a quiet palette of turquoise and green; soft, shaded layers of blue and white layered like quicklime over all the darkness to follow. The plane banks left. Their shadow, a hundred yards behind them, flits over the shimmering surface of the South China Sea. Ahead, blue waters lap against brilliant white sand. A canopy of jungle fronting the beach glows green in the slanting rays of the late-afternoon sun.

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