Tag: Books: Short Stories


Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 3 May, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Hallo everyone! This is my first review here on the blog in quite a while, and suffice to say I’m starting off small because I read a small bit in the last few weeks but unfortunately didn’t jot down enough notes to remember them all in-depth. So here we are instead 😛 Included in this batch are:


Drafts, Fragments, and Poems: The Complete Poetry
By: Joan Murray
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The first appearance of this award-winning writer’s work since the 1940s, this collection, which includes an introduction by John Ashbery, restores Joan Murray’s striking poetry to its originally intended form.

Though John Ashbery hailed Joan Murray as a key influence on his work, Murray’s sole collection, Poems, published after her death at the early age of twenty-four and selected by W. H. Auden for inclusion in the Yale Series of Younger Poets, has been almost entirely unavailable for the better part of half a century. Poems was put together by Grant Code, a close friend of Murray’s mother, and when Murray’s papers, long thought to be lost, reappeared in 2013, it became clear that Code had exercised a heavy editorial hand. This new collection, edited by Farnoosh Fathi from Murray’s original manuscripts, restores Murray’s raw lyricism and visionary lines, while also including a good deal of previously unpublished work, as well as a selection of her exuberant letters.

Okay, I never heard of Joan Murray until I saw the Instagram account for NYRB post about this upcoming collection and posted a few snippets of her poetry. I was intrigued–read a lot of high praise about her work–so I decided to check her work out. Admittedly I read this book a few months ago and did not write any notes anywhere so my memory of my reaction to this book is a bit hazy but I remember enjoying it, the imagery choice she uses was quite intriguing. But the impression that was left in my mind first and foremost was that reminder that poetry can be whatever you make it to be, however you want to express yourself using the words at your disposal, arranged by way your mind, perspective, and creativity makes of it.

So yeah, if you’re looking for new poets from the early twentieth century to check out, definitely look in to this book! It’s great that NYRB is showcasing so many different poets from different periods, I’m finding out about lots of new poets this way 🙂

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 9 February, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

First batch of mini book reviews for the new year! The following are books that I read recently or from last year that I never got around to writing full book reviews for. Included in this batch are:


Luminae
By: Allison Marie Conway
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

A seductive mix of poetry and prose, Luminae is about soul-searching, longing, finding your truth, and feeling comfortable with an inner being who is both tender and strong.

Luminae will resonate with intuitive souls, those who yearn to explore the wild depths of their true nature, and who believe they must hold sacred both the darkness and the light, without turning their backs on love. It speaks to those who embrace the totality of the human experience—even the difficult, ugly, and messy parts.

Our chaotic world is starved for wholehearted, compassionate words like these. Now, more than ever, is the time to quiet the outside noise and come home to the splendor, power, and magic of yourself.

Now is the time to experience Luminae.

I actually read this collection late last year after having followed her poetry IG for some time. The book blurb is pretty apt in that her works are a bit about soul searching, of what is and what can be. On a personal note, and I don’t think I mentioned it previously, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer just straight up short–not necessarily micro–format poetry over poetic prose (I don’t know the actual term for them but they’re like mini essays). Nonetheless I like her poetry, some of them resonated with me and I enjoyed reading her collection.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Review: Tales of Accidental Genius

Posted 26 October, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Tales of Accidental Genius
By: Simon Van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

“She believed it was a gift to never truly know the self. We are not who we think we are, nor how others see us. Long before death, we die a thousand times at the hands of a definition.”

In his first book of short stories since Love Begins in Winter, for which he won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award), bestselling author Simon Van Booy offers a collection of stories highlighting how human genius can emerge through acts of compassion. Through characters including an eccentric film director, an aging Cockney bodyguard, the teenage child of Nigerian immigrants, a divorced amateur magician from New Jersey, and a Beijing street vendor who becomes an overnight billionaire, Tales of Accidental Genius contemplates individuals from different cultures, races—rich and poor, young and old—and reveals how faith and yearning for connection helps us all transcend darkness of fear and misfortune.

Another day, another Simon van Booy novel to review here on the blog 😛 Tales of Accidental Genius is Simon van Booy’s second collection of short stories. Whereas the first collection dealt with love in all forms, this collection has a different angle, which I thought was interesting, not to mention it sounded lie the stories featured characters from all kinds of backgrounds.

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Review: The Secret Lives of People in Love

Posted 23 October, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Secret Lives of People in Love
By: Simon Van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Since the publication of his critically acclaimed debut collection The Secret Lives of People in Love, Simon Van Booy has been hailed as one of the most exciting and talented short-story writers in Anglo-American fiction. This magnificent collection brings together twenty-four stories by a writer of unparalleled lyricism, generosity and emotional power. Set in a range of locations, from Cornwall, Wales, and New York to Paris and Rome, these stark and beautiful stories are a perfect synthesis of intensity and atmosphere. Love, loss, isolation and the power of memory are Van Booy’s themes, and in spare, economical prose he writes about the difficult choices we make in order to retain our humanity, and about the redemptive power of love in a violent world.

The two books I’ve read to date by Simon van Booy had been wonderful. He has a way with words that’s very poetic and that touches on those feelings that are difficult to express or to put into words. Some time ago I decided to pick up the remaining books by him that I haven’t read. Aside from full-length novels, he’s also written short stories, which I thought was interesting. This was the first of the two short story collections that I’ve decided to read.

Once again the author’s prose captures much of feelings, fleeting or otherwise, that are often difficult to express–of love and loss, of the sadness and triumph of memory, of resilience and failure. He captures them quite evocatively in those quiet moments when the character isn’t doing much or is in the middle of transition–the moment you wake up, the quiet travel from one location to another. It’s beautiful and quiet and heartbreaking all in its own little way. Some stories were more haunting than others; “Love Begins in Winter” definitely stood out in my mind, not only because it’s a novella compared to the other stories that followed, but just because of the story itself. The only reason this book wasn’t rated any higher was just because some stories didn’t interest me as much or I personally found it boring, my mind wandering.

Nonetheless I’m glad to have read The Secret Lives of People in Love as it once again showcases Simon van Booy’s prose and ability to capture those melancholic emotions and thoughts that are otherwise difficult to describe or express in writing. Definitely worth checking out too if you’re looking to read through his entire bibliography 😀

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Review: 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution

Posted 11 October, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution is a collection of literary responses to one of the most cataclysmic events in modern world history, which exposes the immense conflictedness and doubt, conviction and hope, pessimism and optimism which political events provoked among contemporary writers – sometimes at the same time, even in the same person. This dazzling panorama of thought, language and form includes work by authors who are already well known to the English-speaking world (Bulgakov, Pasternak, Akhmatova, Mayakovsky), as well as others, whose work we have the pleasure of encountering here for the very first time in English. Edited by Boris Dralyuk, the acclaimed translator of Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry (also published by Pushkin Press), 1917 includes works by some of the best Russian writers – some already famous in the English-speaking world, some published here for the very first time. It is an anthology for everyone: those who are coming to Russian literature for the first time, those who are already experienced students of it, and those who simply want to know how it felt to live through this extreme period in history.

I snatched this book up a few months ago whilst parusing at Book City with friends. Of course anything written by Russian authors would catch my attention, and I thought this was an interesting collection because the works featured here are specifically from the time of the Revolution so there’s that first-hand reaction and creativity stemming from that period. What is also pretty cool about this collection is that it includes works from writers who are not well-known to the English-speaking world: Alexey Kraysky, Zinaida Gippius, Yefim Zozulya. Some authors ring faint bells in my head from my days in grad school and was researching Soviet Russian authors for my own research, but thankfully this collection includes a brief biography about the author prior to their work.

Having said that, I wouldn’t personally recommend this book for those readers approaching Russian literature for the first time (see this post if you’re looking for recommendations there). Unless you’re interested this period of Soviet/Russian history, the works featured here tend to be on the dry side. Again, a personal preference, but it talks a lot about the engineering of a new society, the engineering of a new man, the mechanics of life, the march onward with progress (and trust me, the early years of the Revolution really focused on machines, it feels a bit devoid after a bit, but hey, they loved it). From a historian’s standpoint it’s intriguing because it definitely reflects the ideas that they’re pursuing at the time and the abolition of the old order, but if you’re picking this up for leisurely reading, you may want to consider starting somewhere else instead.

Nonetheless I like the idea of this book being available, the concept is great and is a valuable resource especially for students of Soviet/Russian history and literature.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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