CARTHAGE is quintessential Oates. It is stylistically similar to many of her other books with the utilization of parentheses, repetitions and italics to make the reader take note of what is important and remind us of what has transpired previously. The book is good but it is not Oates’ best.
There is nothing small about the state of Texas nor is there anything small about this epic masterpiece of a novel, which will surely catapult Philipp Meyer into the ranks of the finest American novelists.
What he has accomplished is sheer magic: he has turned the American dream on its ear and revealed it for what it really is: â€śsoil to sand, fertile to barren, fruit to thorns.â€ť The most astounding thing is, you donâ€™t know how good it really is until you close the last page and step back and absorb what you have just experienced.
I have long been an admirer or Russell Banks’ work. This collection of short stories is excellent and many of them kept me riveted for the duration. The collection consists of twelve stories, most of them about the families we have and the families we make. Others are about the figments of truth that make up our experiences while we decide what is worth believing and what is not. The stories take place in different geographic settings from Florida to upstate New York to Portland, Oregon.
The main character of Banksâ€™ new novel, a twenty-two-year-old registered sex offender in South Florida known only as â€śthe Kid,â€ť may initially repel readers. The Kid is recently out of jail and on ten-year probation in fictional Calusa County, and is required to wear a GPS for soliciting sex from an underage girl. Ironically, he is still a virgin.
The Kid cannot leave the county, but he also cannot reside within 2,500 feet from any place children would congregate. That leaves three optionsâ€”the swamplands, the airport area, or the Causeway. He chooses the Causeway and meets other sex offenders, a seriously motley crew, who consciously isolate from each other as a group. He befriends one old man, the Rabbit, but sticks to his tent, his bicycle, and his alligator-size pet iguana, Iggy. Later, he procures a Bible.
Perhaps itâ€™s entirely appropriate that their last name is Fang. For Caleb and Camille are truly parasitesâ€”sucking the blood out of their children, while using them primarily in the service of their art. â€śKids kill art,â€ť the elder Fangsâ€™ mentor once told them. Determined to prove him wrong, Caleb and Camille incorporate Annie and Buster, their two children, into their artâ€”even referring to them as Child A and Child B, mere props in the various performance art sketches they carry out.
Itâ€™s 1987 and New Yorkâ€™s lower east side and alphabet city are places for the homeless, vagrants, the impoverished, hippies, some immigrants who have held out through the next generation and some younger folks who call themselves “straight edge.” Straight edge refers to teenagers who like hard rock and punk but live a straight and clean lifestyle â€“ no meat, no sex, no booze and no drugs. Many shave their heads and are into tattoos. Thatâ€™s what TEN THOUSAND SAINTS by Eleanor Henderson is about â€“ a group of straight ddge teens and their parents trying to understand themselves and one another as they venture through life, a lot of it in alphabet city in Manhattan.