In this engaging debut collection of short stories, L. Annette Binder probes the psyches not of heroes, but of monsters, turning the lens of the fairy tale on itself. When I first read the list of story titles, heavy with allusions—Galatea, Nod—I was afraid of finding myself in the well-trod territory of the reinvented Grimm tale. But Binder’s collection is unusual in the way it straddles the divide between fairy tale and normal life. There is no magic, and there are no talking beasts. Instead, Binder's monsters are ordinary people marked by physical and mental deformities: freakish height, the ability to speak dead languages. For them, the realm of the fairy tale is a lonely, isolated one, an internal landscape of beauty set against a reality that is often twisted and bleak...
Read the rest in "Iowa Review."
Beneath a serious photo of himself in blazer and glasses, author Adam Prince’s webpage contains the following quote from his debut collection of short stories: “Because lust was a region into which the critical mind could only get so far. You could talk evolutionary psychology; you could talk feminism or Freud or the way it should be, but those were only dirt roads into lust, and sometime in the night, they would be washed away.”
In The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men, Prince sets out to explore the outer fringes of what men want. The title of the collection suggests that at the end of the journey readers might arrive clutching something basic and revelatory, some insight into how men think...
Read the rest in "Shenandoah."
Few writers have left as vivid a paper trail of their amorous adventures as Franz Kafka. The German-language writer, famous for the dark, mischievous stories that influenced Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and scores of other writers not nearly so famous, was also, according to a new biography by Jacqueline Raoul-Duval, Kafka in Love, an epic Casanova. Where other men might rely on charm or looks to attract women, Kafka's main tool of seduction was his literary voice. Over the course of his life, he wrote hundreds of love letters to multiple women. Almost a century after his death, Raoul-Duval mines these letters for clues into the private life and passions of one of the modern world's most influential authors...
Read the rest of this review of "Kafka in Love", in "Bookslut."
What to make of this whimsical cookbook-meets-relationship manual, melange of Joy of Cooking and The Rules?
To start with, despite the name, Recipes for Sad Women imparts little by way of culinary education, so get that idea out of your head. Colombian-born author Hector Abad opens with the line, "Nobody knows the recipe for happiness." The book that follows resembles a fairy tale except that it has no plot, 'The Rules' as imagined by a more libertine author with a fondness for old-fashioned magical realism.
Read the rest of this review of "Recipes for Sad Women", in "Bookslut."