Nox – Anne Carson

Grief in Translation

Anne Carson’s Nox, Latin for night, is a new breed of manuscript in more ways than one. This collage-style-journal-turned-book defies categorization—novel, poem, pastiche? The physical format—a sturdy box packaging that houses an accordion-fold book with no spine—allows the reader the versatility to view as many or few pages at a time as they prefer. Once removed from the box-cover, the book becomes fragile and intimate appropriately mirroring its content.* Continue reading

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

A Narrative Symphony

David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is a masterfully interwoven novel that tells in many voices, six to be exact. Through a Russian doll construction, readers are exposed to six different narratives ranging across centuries from the travel diary of an American lawyer’s crossing of the Pacific Ocean in 1850 to a distant post-apocalyptic world where man’s greed has destroyed most of civilization and the remaining humans have returned to a primitive tribal system. In between, the reader encounters an epistolary account of a young composer’s tenure as assistant to an older, more established composer, a pulp-fiction drama set in the 1970’s where the savvy reporter, Luisa Rey, takes on corporate in the form of Seaboard Power, Inc., the witty memoir of Timothy Cavendish, a book editor who is held in a nursing home against his will, and a science fiction-style interview with Sonmi-451, a genetically-engineered human clone who has ascended from the role of illiterate slave to assert her own humanity. Continue reading

The Quickening – Michelle Hoover

You Can’t Pick Your Neighbors

Michelle Hoover’s first novel, The Quickening, enters the gritty, high-stakes relationship between two women building homes and raising families on the austere Midwest prairie at the turn of 20th century. Sturdy and determined Enidina “Eddie” Current has been rescued from spinsterhood by her quiet and faithful husband Frank. Her farm skills and solid work ethic promise to yield a satisfying but hard life, until the neighborly interference of Mary Morrow begins to affect the course of Eddie’s family. Mary is Eddie’s opposite, a delicate urban transplant. Jack, her loud vivacious husband, can be something of an abusive brute, but nothing seems to happen to Mary unless she is a part of his whirlwind. Ironically, Mary is the partner with a dark past and a history of destructive self justification. Jack shares her propensity toward interference in others’ affairs, specifically when he kills the Current’s hogs in response to the difficult economic conditions, but against Eddie and Frank’s wishes. Throughout the course of the novel, compromise becomes a method of survival for both families. Continue reading