--In another podcast at The Agony Column, Terry Bisson moderates a panel discussion with Andrea Hairston, Pan Morigan, and Howard V. Hendrix held on May 9, 2011 in San Francisco.
--Matt Cheney reviews Gwyneth Jones's The Universe of Things for the Summer 2011 issue of Rain Taxi (print only). It begins:
The Universe of Things collects fifteen short stories published between 1985 and 2009, and one of the most remarkable qualities of the colelction is the consistency of Gwyneth Jones's style over that time. With only a few exceptions, the stories, regardless of their point of view, are narrated in an objective, almost affectless tone, the sort of tone that attracts such adjectives as cold, hard, clear, emotionless.
The stories are not emotionless, though; readers' connections to them will depend very much on how well they respond to Jones's style, but the characters often face emotionally wrought situations. In "Grandmother's Footsteps," a woman perceives the house she is renovating to be haunted and a threat to herself and her family. It is a tale of ghosts and madness and maybe something in between, a cousin to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and James Tiptree Jr.s "Your Faces O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light"-- but different from those masterpieces because the narrator's perception of the madness-haunting is restrained, almost reasonable, more like a scientist weighing observations than a person in the midst of deeply disturbing phenomena.
Which may, of course, be part of the point: Life is shell shocking.
Faren Miller reviews Andrea Hairston's Redwood and Wildfire for the June 2011 issue of Locus (print only). Her review concludes:
Hairston gives us an intimate view of lives at the nadir, and takes her time crafting an escape to the North and to a city (Chicago) which proves to be no paradise, since even with the best intentions errant humanity can find new ways to fall.
But the book ultimately breaks free from the conventions of social tragedy and the limits of history to immerse its characters in a rich stew of early 20th-century entertainments (Vaudeville! travelling circuses!), where Americans work alongside exotic immigrants, and humdrum existence can suddenly become surreal. There's room here for humor as well as patter, stage magic and true wonders, sex, sensuality and love, invention and revelations-- all driven by the spirit of raw potential that marked urban American in changing times, and the astounding resilience of the human heart.
Storyteller Linda Goodman reviews Anne Sheldon's The Bone Spindle for Tales from the Tapestry. She concludes:
The bone spindle is an instrument capable of bringing both danger and comfort. This is a book that should be kept by your bedside, for those nights when sleep will not come; when you need assurance that even in the darkest hours, beauty can eclipse the pain.The June 2011 issue of Locus puts the spotlight on Rachel Swirsky, with four Qs & As