Admin
Tuesday, 14 April 2020 09:47

Standing guard – ‘Barker House’

The notion of crime and punishment has long been a subject of artistic expression. Those who commit misdeeds and those tasked with exacting retribution for those misdeeds allow for a wealth of character and thematic exploration. A society’s treatment of those it imprisons often serves as an effective lens through which to view the rest of that society.

Those grand ideas writ small are what make up “Barker House” (Bloomsbury, $26), the debut novel-in-stories of David Moloney. Through a series of interconnected looks at some of the corrections officers at a New Hampshire prison over the course of one year on the job, Moloney explores some of the grim realities of mass incarceration. By delving into these people on an individual level, he assembles a broader and much more vivid picture of the system as a whole.

What makes this book compelling – and it really is compelling – are those extended character studies. We learn about these people and what makes them tick. We find out about the circumstances that landed them in this job and the motivations that keep them there. There are rookies and lifers, each with their own ideas about how this job works. Some seek to better the system, others are content to simply get along.

And all the while, the machine grinds on … and the prisoners are not the only grist for the mill.

Published in Style
Tuesday, 12 November 2019 12:48

‘Genuine Fakes’ keeps it real

What is real? What is fake? What do those terms even mean? Is there some kind of gray area in between? And what about authenticity? Is that the same thing? Can something be real without being authentic? Or authentic without being real?

That idea of what is real is the central tenet of Lydia Pyne’s new book “Genuine Fakes: How Phony Things Teach Us About Real Stuff” (Bloomsbury Sigma, $28). Through an exploration of eight different objects that land somewhere in that blurry place between real and fake, Pyne offers readers a chance to consider what the differences might be.

Too often, we allow ourselves to be conditioned to believe that there are two choices: real and not-real. But the world is far too complex to be governed by that sort of yes/no binary – authenticity depends on one’s perspective.

What Pyne does with “Genuine Fakes” is offer up examples that point up the malleability of authenticity; what is and is not real isn’t always set in stone. And just because something comes to be through methods different than the norm, does that make it fake? Or just a different kind of real? It’s a legitimately fascinating read, well-researched and packed with detail – the sort of book that will surprise and delight the intellectually curious.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 20 February 2019 14:04

‘Aerialists’ a literary high-wire act

There are a number of ways for an author to assemble a collection of short fiction. Some just repurpose whatever stories they’ve published in various literary magazines and other outlets and put them together. Others develop their stories around some sort of shared thematic or stylistic tendencies. Still others use go the “novel in stories” route, using their tales as chapters of a connected whole. And some follow more than one of these tenets.

Mark Mayer’s collection “Aerialists” (Bloomsbury, $26) falls into the latter category. This collection of nine stories draws from Mayer’s previous work – three of these stories have appeared elsewhere. His stories are rich in characterization, very internal and bleakly funny. And as his framing device – his connective tissue, as it were – he uses the notion of the circus.

Now, that’s not to say that these stories are all about the circus. In fact, none of them are. Their names are derived from circus figures, from the opening “Strongwoman” to the titular tale to the collection’s closer “The Ringmaster.” But while these names aren’t to be taken as literal representations of circus tradition, they are meant to evoke the unique feeling inspired by the circus, that mélange of joy and fear and unsettling otherness that you can’t get anywhere else.

Another common bond that these stories share – a very important one – is that they are excellent.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:54

After the end - ‘The Rending and the Nest’

Post-apocalyptic novel challenging and complex

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 15:05

It’s alive! – ‘Making the Monster’

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus” was published in 1818. In the two centuries since, it has taken its place as one of the most iconic works of science fiction and gothic horror in the history of Western literature. It has become a cultural touchstone, a familiar landmark for anyone navigating the realm of popular culture. When you say “Frankenstein,” everyone knows to what you’re referring.

But while the novel is a work of pure invention, it came about in a world where many of the ideas it put forth were viewed as plausible. The environment in which Shelley lived at that time was an ideal breeding ground to give birth to such a tale.

“Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” (Bloomsbury Sigma, $27) is author and scientist Kathryn Harkup’s effort to give a sense of perspective on the world into which Shelley’s iconic tale was brought, to shine a light on the scientific conventions and societal mores that served as the foundation upon which the classic story was built.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 14:38

Soccer by the numbers Soccermatics'

Book brings together mathematical modeling and sport

One of the things that first drew me into sports fandom was the prevalence of numbers. Professional sports count a lot of things; as a kid with a proclivity for math and a lot of time on his hands, it's no surprise that I would embrace that side of things.

Published in Style

Debut novel a compelling, quality work of literary science fiction

One could argue that we're currently riding a wave of literary science fiction unlike any we've seen before. Genre tropes have been embraced by 'serious' writers in a way that has opened up seemingly endless possibilities and allowed for new ways to ask some of the age-old questions addressed by literature.

Published in Buzz

Advertisements

The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine