By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The Marceau Case, by Harry Stephen Keeler
This 1936 book is a hilarious blast of cablegrams, photos, newspaper columns, and other diverse materialsome of it beautifully irrelevant to the story at hand, about the mysterious slaying of a man on an immaculate lawn. The solution is outrageous and mind-boggling. I've never read a book like it, unless it's the sequel, X. Jonesof Scotland Yard, which takes the same formula and lifts it into even dizzier realms.
Park is the author of Personal Days.
A well-meaning husband in Alice Munros short story Cortes Island, faced with a noisome crone, jokingly asks his young wife, What is the point of old women anyway? Acting out that grim homily is the family of Marian Leatherby, the 92-year-old protagonist of Leonora Carringtons novel The Hearing Trumpet. She wrote The Hearing Trumpet half a century ago, and is now a year younger than its protagonist. Even when the plot turns grim, the prose is jaunty, a sign of its authors reveling in her own perverse imagination.
Sharpe is the author of Jamestown
Color of Darkness, James Purdy
To me it's the earliest "version" of the kind of writing termed "K-mart realism" in the late 70s to mid-80s (Raymond Carver, Joy Williams, Ann Beattie, etc.). Yet he is not ever cited as an influence by any of those people.
Lin is author of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
On page two, our brutal narrator, Rodrigo S.M., writes, "Happiness? I have never come across a more foolish word, invented by all those unfortunate girls from north-eastern Brazil." He tells the story of one of thembut the book is as much about Rodrigo thinking and writing as it is about this ugly, stupid, poor girl's fate. The book is 96 pages and should be read as I first read it: all in one sitting, in a dreary bar where one is a stranger, when all one's friends are out of town.
Heti is author of Ticknor