by Daniel Green

Praying Drunk – Kyle Minor

The book is caught between the impulse to evoke the culture and struggles of the Bible Belt and what seems like a retroactive concern with aesthetic design.

Storm Still – Peter Handke

It is not uncommon in discussions of Peter Handke’s work for both Handke and literary critics to refer to a “text” of his rather than to a novel, a play, or a memoir.

Hawthorn and Child – Keith Ridgway

Hawthorn and Child is a fundamentally conventional work of fiction, with arguably the imposed tension between reading it as a novel and reading it a series of short stories the sole adventurous feature.

Bleeding Edge – Thomas Pynchon

Ultimately Bleeding Edge is not so much “minor” Pynchon as it is a kind of synthetic replica of a Thomas Pynchon novel, all the more disappointing because it was written by Pynchon himself.

Cannonball – Joseph McElroy

A difficult novel should be difficult because it prompts us to reexamine our facile assumptions, not because it’s boring.

Benediction – Kent Haruf

Benediction sets out to do what old-fashioned realism, at its best, took as its central ambition, to portray life as lived, without the kind of artificial distortions that would make it seem either better or worse than the actuality itself allows.

Percival Everett by Virgil Russell – Percival Everett

At its best, Everett’s self-reflexive mockery and abrasive humor closely approach the line separating productive ridicule and mere negation, but don’t quite cross it.

Tenth of December – George Saunders

Saunders’s fiction leaves the discernible impression its representation of human folly is at least partly meant to suggest we should (and could) stop doing and believing the things that make it possible.

Swim for the Little One First – Noy Holland

Holland’s stories do not indulge in easy emotions, even if the bleak emotional atmosphere in many of them can be chilling.

The Fifty Year Sword – Mark Danielewski

Once it has been established that our assumptions about reading are arbitrary, to keep issuing reminders without demonstrating how literature might be approached differently makes the effort seem like gimmickry.