Review by Kasandra Lambert
In her debut novel, Found (SparkPress, 2016), certified nurse practitioner Emily Brett presents the story of Natalie, a young ICU nurse living in Denver, Colorado who is desperate for change. This novel follows Natalie as she leaves her stable job and becomes a travel nurse, placed in locations around the United States and abroad for a set amount of time.
Natalie’s somewhat impulsive decision to quit takes on new urgency after a strange encounter during the final days of her job in Denver. She fears a coworker, Beatty, has had a hand in killing her husband, who was a patient under Natalie’s care. She shares these concerns with her boss before leaving and thinks little of it until strange occurrences start to happen in all her travel assignments. Continue reading “Book Review: Found”
Review by Anna Kirsch
The Port-Wine Stain (Bellevue Literary Press, 2016) is the third installment of Norman Lock’s American Series, a series where each novel is a stand-alone narrative dedicated to memorializing great American writers by writing in a style that is part pastiche and part homage. The Port- Wine Stain is devoted to celebrating Edgar Allan Poe.
The Port -Wine Stain is narrated by Edward Fenzil to an undescribed listener he calls Moran. Fenzil is a young surgical assistant to Dr.Thomas Dent Mütter, who in the winter of 1844, meets Edgar Allan Poe. While to the literary reader Poe is the most recognizable figure, Mütter is just as important to Fenzil. It is Mütter who sets up the meeting between Poe and Fenzil and it is Mütter’s early form of cosmetic surgery that introduces into Fenzil’s imagination the concept of physiognomy. Physiognomy maintaines that a person’s character is determined by their physical body, or to be exact, the shape of the body. The idea that a twisted body could be the sign of a twisted soul is the ideological cornerstone of the novel. Continue reading “Book Review: The Port-Wine Stain”
Review by Burcu Alkan
Richard Wiley, 1987 winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Best American Fiction, takes a new path in his latest novel, Bob Stevenson (Bellevue Literary Press, 2016). Having lived in Korea, Japan, Nigeria, and Kenya, his previous novels mainly deal with distant geographies and cross-cultural encounters. Yet, with his eighth book, he brings his storytelling closer to home. Set in New York City, Bob Stevenson tells the story of a psychiatrist who falls in love with a patient and the very-human difficulties of emotions that arise from such a knotty affair.
The novel opens with Dr. Ruby Okada rushing off to meet a fellow doctor and a friend, Bette, for dinner. In the elevator of the clinic, she meets an enigmatic man with unidentifiable charms that grip her attention. What happens next is unravelled in the rest of the novel, as Ruby tries to come to terms with the consequences of her impulsive decision. The mystery of the man in the elevator, and Ruby’s relation to him, is presented through a curious narrative that touches upon the emotions underlying and shaping one’s filial, social, and romantic relationships. Continue reading “Book Review: Bob Stevenson”
Review by Janet Philp
Liam Durcan, a consultant neurologist at McGill University, returns to the literary world following the success of his first novel, Garcia’s Heart — for which he won the Arthur ELLIS Best First Novel award in 2008 — with The Measure of Darkness (Bellevue Literary Press, 2016). This second book is the story of Martin, a distinguished architect who emerges from a coma to discover that his life has changed. He is suffering from neglect syndrome, a brain injury that leaves him unaware of any deficit. People suffering from neglect syndrome are unaware of half of the stimuli in their environment. In an extreme case a person with neglect who is asked to draw a clockface will only draw the number from 12 to 6 whilst believing that they have drawn a whole clock and they may only eat the food from one side of their plate. In Martin’s case they test for his neglect with the often used line bisection test where the patient is asked to draw a line that bisects the one that the doctor has drawn on a piece of paper. The bisecting line is usually drawn to one side, only bisecting the section of the line that the patient can “see.” This is a career ending injury for an architect.
As we travel with Martin through his recovery and acceptance of his condition we are introduced to his estranged brother and his daughters. We are introduced to a world where many of the characters demonstrate “neglect” in certain aspects of their lives even without having suffered the injuries that Martin has gone through. Martin’s obsession with the Soviet architect Konstantin Melnikov allows him to draw parallels with his own career, having being removed from the commission of a lifetime and being declared unfit to practice following the car accident that placed Martin in the coma. It is Martin’s therapeutic writing of Melnikov’s story that allows him to reflect on his visit to the USSR when he was a student and finally reveals to Martin what happened the night of his accident. He fears that having lost his career he may end up like Melnikov: “But what these men really want to know, like all the others who came before, is how you managed to survive without building anything for forty years. Do you see the incomprehension in the eyes of the student?” (198). Continue reading “Book Review: The Measure of Darkness”