It might be best to imagine Bomer’s characters as moths endlessly flying toward the flickering blue neon light of a bug-zapper. Desire inevitably leads to futility.
Ma Thanegi writes about the communality of the inmates, their industriousness, humor, and equanimity in the face of injustice. She describes the women she meets and tells their stories—with prostitutes, pickpockets, and political prisoners making up the cast. She also relates how she raised sparrows, grew herbs, and always wore red lipstick while imprisoned. Still, she’s writing in English about things the government in Myanmar has tried to keep hush-hush, and that’s a pretty significant enterprise.
I began reading Paula Bomer’s Inside Madeleine on a plane ride. I sat next to a friend and fellow writer who was working on his own story collection. He’d published a novel and poetry, but never short stories, and he felt disoriented attempting the new form. He wanted inspiration. He wanted a sense of control and…
In writing previous books I was a little more anxious about the craft police and in this book I just really didn’t care. I wanted it to be in fragments and I wanted it to be lyrical and have a lot of emotion in it and I wanted to roam around between the scenes and have these digressive, meditative moments.
Now, the buzz is drawing comparisons to Denis Johnson and, largely, Flannery O’Connor: stark, effusive, violent, seminal writers. Though after finishing Morris’s debut, I find I’m only struck to agree with this likening in its broadest possible sense, almost to a degree that their connections are contextual, and not what is drawn out of the writing.
I’m drawn most to writing that reminds me of the dazzling wonders of the world. That said, of course, I feel cynicism about many things. It’s hard to reach 40 in a tehcno-capitalist society and not become cynical about humanity’s attitude toward resources, or about the way capitalism rewards the profit motive above all else.
Following the death of his wife, Jacob Rosenbloom, veritable inventor of the film projector, moves his son from New York to California in an outward move of grief. Yet, along the way, Bloom, a sharply inquisitive, twelve-year-old, accounts the manner in which the two have been followed, their entire journey, by three looming figures, and he begins to understand it’s not only grief that has motivated his father.
There are many attempts to write something original, or offbeat, in the trends of literary fiction. These attempts include insular references, experimental sectioning, pictographs, and so on, but a good writer can always achieve something original in linear form. Vernon Downs is eccentrically original, and it may not even be a book I like.