Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Book Review

‘Black Glass’


Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,” has recently reprinted her 1998 publication, “Black Glass.” With these 15 short stories, novelist Fowler delivers an inventive, provocative collection.

By Karen Joy Fowler Marian Wood Books/Putnam June 23, 2015 $27.95 304 pp

By Karen Joy Fowler
Marian Wood
June 23, 2015
304 pp

The title story is the lengthiest and perhaps the most elaborate. With innovative fashion, Fowler leads us on a hallucinatory tale of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent Patrick Harris, an eight-year veteran who finds himself contending with a personified form of the temperance activist Carry A. Nation, “a big, loud woman with a hatchet.” Tearing across America, shredding bars in pursuit of virtuousness, she must be stopped. “Is it a real body?” Harris wonders. While in Panama, he summons voodoo powers to combat her.

“Shimabara” is a lyrical, heartbreaking story of a mother’s love and admiration for her son and the bittersweetness and grief of losing him as he grows older. A mother recounts the 350-year-old story of a 15-year-old Japanese boy, Shiro, and his mother, Martha, who lost her boy as he became a type of Christ-like messiah. The mother laments, “We consort with ghosts, even as we sit and eat with, scold and kiss, their current corporeal forms.”

Unique and fascinating, Fowler’s stories will entice, and her clever, strong, original voice is worth investigating. CV

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Fay Jones was born with a love of literature, which was finely shored up throughout her early years by her parents and a beloved children’s librarian who wore the thickest glasses ever manufactured. Jones once won a coupon for a free ice cream cone after her suggestion for a name for the local Reading Is Fundamental mascot was selected. 

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