Reviews, Interviews, Opinions

We like to share our views on books by independent presses and authors we dig.  If you know of a book or author we might dig please email us at  info@curbsidesplendor.com.  


Review - The Imagination of Lewis Carroll

By Joey Pizzolato

The Imagination of Lewis CarrollThe evidence of Lewis Carroll’s impact on our present-day imagination is right in front of us. Since its original publication in 1865, there has been countless adaptations for screen and stage, made-for-TV movies, literary spin-offs, quasi-sequels, paintings, comics, operas, games and mangas created in its tradition. Alice’s head continues to pop out her rabbit hole, and we continue welcoming her with our warm embrace.

Lewis Carroll, as mathematician, absurdist, writer, character, and theologian, also remains at the forefront of our collective thought. Scholars continue to examine his work; interested parties continue to pen his biography. You would think that such an exhaustive list of literature and art would leave little room for a fresh and new reimagining of Carroll or his stories, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. 

William Todd Seabrook, author of The Imagination of Lewis Carroll and winner of Rose Metal Press’s Eighth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest, is a man after Carroll’s own heart.

 

How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy TalesThe cover of Kate Bernheimer’s story collection How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales, with its golden tones and its pastel lettering, is deceptively placid. Are we sailing through a field, or squirming nose-deep through shag carpeting? As it turns out, either would be appropriate. Inside, Bernheimer leads us through worlds both wild and domestic—from outer space to the cruelest of classrooms, from the dinosaur age to modern suburban sprawl. Bernheimer’s goal seems to be to take the classic fairy tale as we know it and turn it inside out, exposing its guts in all their beautiful, brutal, pitch-black glory. Rather than simply reiterating this form of storytelling, she is reinventing it.

 
Review - Nobody is Ever Missing

By Jacob Hall

Catherine Lacey’s Nobody Is Ever Missing is dense enough to nearly chip a tooth on, and I say this with only the utmost glee and respect. The novel follows twenty-nine year-old Elyria as she leaves her quiet, peaceful life with her husband in New York for New Zealand where she plans to take up a past offer to stay on a secluded farm. The deal quickly turns sour, with her host eventually kicking her out for interrupting his peaceful life with her sadness.

Left to her own devices, Elyria eventually secures several odd-job positions in order to survive, including a catering job with a trans woman who hums with an “indistinguishable sound,” a hired hand on an organic farm run by a cross-generational couple, and the temporary, pretend wife of a “bogan” (a New Zealand "redneck"). Each of these characters serves as a representation of an attribute that Elyria herself is striving to acquire, or at least that she admires.

Along the way, she struggles with what she describes as “the wildebeest” that resides within her, and grapples with the suicide of her adopted sister years earlier that she has never quite dealt with.

 
Review - Sad Robot Stories

By Claire Gillespie

Sad Robot Stories Blog Tour Mason JohnsonSad Robot Stories is, indeed, sad, and the novella’s main character, Robot, may just break your heart. Too curious to fit in with his methodic siblings and too precise to fit in with humans, Robot is a perpetual outsider. This status allows him to observe the human race through the welcome of a human fellow factory worker Mike and his family. Eating casserole with Mike’s wife and children, Robot learns that disaster can be avoided with a little bit of sentimentality and humor and that keeping track of children is more difficult than it seems. Robot realizes that he can be scared and can love, and that these are both important.

Mike and his wife Sally, as Robot learns, fall in love over books. They send each other classics, detective stories, and ideas through letters. Their shared love of the stories they send each other is what brings them together. Mason Johnson structures Sad Robot Stories as a narrative within a narrative: some stories, like that of Sally and Mike, sit for awhile before they become part of the larger story. Other stories grow rapidly.

 
Review - Love Songs of the Revolution

By KC Kirkley

On the first page of Bronwyn Mauldin's Love Songs of the Revolution, Martynas Kudirka, the Lithuanian-American narrator and protagonist, claims that his memoir is "true" – a sure sign that we're dealing in subterfuge.  Historicity, in fact, is under cross examination in Mauldin's novel-masquerading-as-memoir, but that concept isn't fully realized until well after the main narrative text is finished.  While the memoir itself is a formidable little bit of fiction, Mauldin places it in context with other documents that shine a mottled light on the difference between fact and truth.  However, before we can think about all of that, we must first deal with Kudirka's "memoir."

On the second page, Kudirka warns us that we (his American audience, of whom he is hyper-aware and judgmental), will be disappointed in his story. In fact, he warns that we are "fools to expect anything but heartache and disappointment" from his story, or anything else at all, for that matter.

 
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