Lucky Alan by Jonathan Lethem | PANK
The short story form serves Jonathan Lethem well. An imagination and intellect as keen as fertile as Lethem’s can take any idea and run with it for as long as he likes, which can result in, for instance, his disastrous 2009 novel Chronic City. Or it can produce something wondrous like The Fortress of Solitude. But Lethem’s stories, like his essays, allow him to explore a conceit with the same brilliant mind while simultaneously preventing him from wearing out his literary welcome.
Egg Heaven by Robin Parks | PANK
Egg Heaven is the first book from Shade Mountain Press, a publisher that aims to end the imbalance of women in the literary world. Parks’ collection is a wonderful way to start such a noble and necessary project, as Parks is a stunningly gifted writer, one whose careful optimism and tender sympathies seem to be, like her characters’, hard won––and all the more meaningful for being so.
If There’s Any Truth in a Northbound Train by Ryan Werner | PANK
Leyner in My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist relished in pointing to the fabricated nature of fiction. Werner, though, has a different intention: his stories portray a particular group of young people in a particular part of the Midwest in a particular age. These stories are about the moment, and ultimately, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Last Word by Jonathan Blum | PANK Magazine
So with all those wonderful qualities, it’s a shame that Last Word ultimately feels a little late, a tad irrelevant. Blum attempts to shine a light on the ways in which the Internet has greatly complicated family life, but the overall effect fails to add anything new to the conversation––probably because the conversation has been going on for a long time.
MFA vs NYC, edited by Chad Harbach | PANK
“But for all its multiplicity, MFA vs NYC, taken altogether, seems to toll the bells, not for the publishing industry as a whole or even the MFA era, but, from an aspiring writer’s perspective, the chance of any young artist hoping to make any kind of creative dent in this world. The book’s title would probably be more accurate as The World vs Writers.”
Books We Can’t Quit | Pank Magazine
“From my point of view, that opening sentence foreshadowed my own life. I, too, began my first stories in my early 20s. I, too, was already planning my own Bildungsroman. And I, too, was meeting a great man. This was one of my first Philip Roth novels and my first exposure to Nathan Zuckerman.”