Knockout Narratives Sale


Monday, June 7th


Victorine by Catherine Texier

Caught between two dreams

A review by Ron Charles

A bright student once told me that she felt the literary canon was pointing at her threateningly:

Edna Pontellier walks into the ocean.

Lily Bart swallows too many sleeping pills.

Emma Bovary chokes on poison.

I interrupted her list and with great care — lest I burn her mind to a crisp with my wisdom — explained that it's better to study these novels that accurately reflect a repressive society than to read "empowerment propaganda" dressed up as literature.

"Yes," she sighed with patience that would serve her well when dealing with other bores. "But most women don't kill themselves. They just muddle along."

I kept thinking of that insight and the vast, quiet tragedy it implies while reading a new novel by Catherine Texier called Victorine. The story arises from a painful chapter buried in the author's family history. Texier's great-grandmother abandoned her children and husband in France at the turn of the 19th-century to follow a customs officer to...

Glacial Period: A Graphic Novel by Nicolas De Crecy

A French Comics Artist Imagines the Next Ice Age

A review by Rebecca Porte

Someday, when the next ice age sweeps in and you can only get to Europe by digging through a healthy layer of permafrost, Spiderman and Hulk will still be good names to call your dog -- at least, according to Nicolas De Crecy's Glacial Period. In many ways a graphic novel about the endurance of art, and especially of comics, Glacial Period asks what would happen if travelers in a distant future stumbled on the remains of a museum while surveying a frozen wasteland known to them as "the lost continent." Given that the book was commissioned by the Louvre as part of a series of graphic novels...

The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation by Fanny Howe

A Nameless Vocation

A review by Ange Mlinko

At the outset of The Winter Sun, an apologia for the writing life, Fanny Howe confesses, "Since early adolescence I have wanted to live the life of a poet. What this meant to me was a life outside the law; it would include disobedience and uprootedness. I would be at liberty to observe, drift, read, travel, take notes, converse with friends, and struggle with form." The outlaw poet has a long lineage, from the Beats and Rimbaud back to the troubadours, and it doesn't accommodate the vulnerabilities of womankind. What it would mean for Howe, born in the United States in 1940, to pursue a life...

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott

A Forgivably Flat Classic

A review by Colin C. Adams

In 1884, the English minister, headmaster, and biblical and Shakespearean scholar Edwin Abbott Abbott produced a thin volume titled Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. It was both an introduction to the notion of higher dimensions and a satire of Victorian society and norms. At that time, there was substantial interest in the idea of higher dimensions, both within the scientific community and also in the more general population. Abbott's work provided a simple story that allowed lay audiences to grasp the idea of dimensions beyond the familiar three. Flatland helped to set the stage for...

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

The widow bride of Niagara

A review by Ron Charles

You can't help pitying the people who show up in the novels of Joyce Carol Oates. From the first page, you sense that they're going to be known to death, literally splayed by her insight. And before you realize it, she's done the same thing to us. For 40 years, she's coyly enticed us with the gothic details of ordinary life and then -- when it's too late -- pinned us on the sharp point of her wisdom.

I read The Falls, her latest novel, in what seemed like one held breath. Set around Niagara, the story reflects all the romance, mystery, and terror of that spectacular waterfall. It's a great ...

Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood by Melissa Hart

Melissa Hart's Memoir from the Heart

A review by Katie Schneider

"What's best for the child."

The phrase gets bandied about a lot in divorce proceedings. For a young Melissa Hart, it was a judge's justification for taking her away from her mother, a loving, vibrant woman who happened to be a lesbian.

"I must consider what's best for the children," the judge said. "A woman living with another woman, on a dangerous street with volatile neighbors?"

The contrast between her father's sterile suburban lifestyle and her mother's warmth is at the center of Hart's new memoir, Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood.

"There were no Latinos, Chicanos or...

Energy Autonomy: The Economic, Social and Technological Case for Renewable Energy by Hermann Scheer

Diverse and Decentralized

A review by April Placencia

Hermann Scheer -- president of EUROSOLAR, general chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy and member of the German Bundestag (Parliament) -- is not satisfied with the current global prospects for renewable energy. In his latest book, Energy Autonomy: The Economic, Social and Technological Case for Renewable Energy, he tackles the "one-dimensional thinking" and "blockades to action" that are preventing renewable energy from becoming a major source of energy for the world. He also lays out a strategy for true energy autonomy -- a diverse, decentralized energy structure that relies on ...

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