Category Archives: book

“Ghosts and Empties” by Lauren Groff c. 2018 (pages 1-14 in Florida)

A privileged mother of two takes walks at night and considers the ease at which she moves through a world rife with problems. A haunting story about family, love, and loneliness. Sentences Worth Studying “I have somehow become a woman … Continue reading

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“Freedom” by Rachel Cusk * c. 2018 (pages 170-184 in The Pushcart Prize XLII–originally published in The Paris Review)

Quiet and profound, this story is set during a single salon visit. In it, Cusk expertly explores issues of authenticity, aging, and loneliness. Sentences Worth Studying “It was growing dark outside, and the rain against the salon’s big windows looked … Continue reading

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My Antonia (and other works) by Willa Cather c. 1994 (508 pages—Random House)

An American classic set in Nebraska at the turn of the century (late 1800s, early 1900s). The narrative frame focuses on Jim Burden, a lawyer living in NYC, giving his friend a copy of a manuscript that he has written … Continue reading

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A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson c. 2018 (320 pages—Simon & Schuster)

NOTE: This summary contains spoilers. Set in the Midwest, this novel centers on three generations of women, each with her own set of problems, and each feeling similarly stuck. Evelyn (Laura’s mother) was pushed out of her role as a … Continue reading

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The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel c. 2018 (354 pages—Algonquin)

Warning: This summary contains spoilers. The Optimistic Decade is set in the Bush Sr. era, with some flashbacks to the Reagan years. The main characters are teenagers and young adults, all of whom are engaged in a timeless rite of … Continue reading

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Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport c. 1994 (480 pages—Penguin)

A sweeping tale that spans generations and blurs the lines between people. This complex story swirls around Pono, an ailing grandmother who has hidden her husband and true love (Duke, a regal Hawai’ian who contracted leprosy) from her daughters and … Continue reading

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“Silent is Help” by Elena Georgiou c. 2018 (pages 67 – 96 in The Immigrants Refrigerator)

This story shows the relationship between two guarded people: a reclusive American man and a woman from Nicaragua, both of whom agree to not get too close, as previous traumas have made it difficult to openly share. Motifs of excess … Continue reading

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