Category Archives: book

“Audition” by Said Sayrafiezadeh c. 2019 (pages 255-270 in The Best American Short Stories 2019)

“Audition” centers on a young man who, seeking life-experience and legitimacy as an actor, gets high with a co-worker at his father’s construction site. Larger themes of isolation and economic inequality resonate in this cinematic short story.  Sentences Worth Studying … Continue reading

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The Overstory by Richard Powers c. 2018 (502 pages—Norton)

A sweeping, polyphonic story that follows the lives of eight central characters, all of whom have a connection to trees. The prose borders on poetry and the writing celebrates nature without being overwrought. The branching complexity and interconnectedness of trees … Continue reading

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“Creative Types” by Tom Bissell c. 2018 (pages 85-102 in Pushcart Prize XLII) originally published in The Paris Review

This short story centers on a married couple’s effort to reawaken passion lost to life changes (i.e., a baby) by having a three-way with an escort. Set in a single evening, Bissell artfully reveals people’s biases, complexities, and fixations through … Continue reading

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Friendswood by Rene Steinke c. 2014 (398 pages—Riverhead)

Set in small-town Texas, this novel chronicles the way in which different characters respond to a central environmental crisis. The lead protagonist is Lee, a mother who, after losing her daughter to cancer, embarks upon a lonely crusade against the … Continue reading

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“Zombie Sister” by Kristine Ong Muslim c. 2016 (pages 67-71 in Age of Blight)

Age of Blight is a short collection of dystopic slipstream stories. In “Zombie Sister” a dead girl returns to her family as a shell of her former self, unable to partake in any normal activities. Sentences Worth Studying “Every family … Continue reading

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Thirst by Benjamin Warner c. 2016 (283 pages—Bloomsbury)

NOTE: THIS SUMMARY CONTAINS SPOILERS. This book is classified as “cli-fi” (fiction about climate change), although the mysterious catastrophe—a sudden loss of power and water (singed trees, dry riverbeds)—is not explicitly linked to climate change in the novel. Eddie and … Continue reading

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Why We Write edited by Meredith Maran c. 2013 (228 pages—Penguin Books)

Joan Didion: “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means” (NY Times Book Review) William Goldman qtd. by David Baldacci: “Write everything as if it’s the first thing … Continue reading

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