A Kafkaesque anniversary

I’m guessing I was in high school when I first heard the word “existential” or “existentialism.” Likewise, I’m guessing that was when I first grasped even a glimmer of what it meant — and I am still far from claiming comprehension. One thing I’ve always found unique about existentialism is fiction’s role in it. Ask […]

Book Review: East of the West: A Country in Stories by Miroslav Penkov

Stories can reveal much about a people, culture or nation. They tend to reflect not only tradition but the variety and evolution of beliefs and societal viewpoints. Although Miroslav Penkov now lives and teaches in the United States, his debut collection of short stories provides insight into his native Bulgaria a reader would never pick […]

Book Review: The Universe in Miniature in Miniature by Patrick Somerville

Book publicity frequently is an exercise in the art (or artifice) of puffery. So, when a book is described as a “genre-busting” work, I tend to approach it with a bit of caution. Generally, though that term is a fair description of The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, Patrick Somerville’s collection of short stories. Some […]

Book Review: The Road by Vasily Grossman

Given American popular literature today, perhaps a person first seeing Vasily Grossman’s The Road on the bookshelves could be excused if they first wonder if it is vampire or zombie-laden mashup of Cormac McCarthy’s award-winning novel of the same name. Yet readers who actually pick up the book and explore it will discern that this […]

Book Review: Public Image: Stories and Poems by Thomas A. Hauck

Short stories and poetry are deceptively difficult literary forms. On the surface, they have the allure of simplicity. After all, they don’t require the detailed arcs or subplots of a novel. Short stories also need not deal with meter or rhyme. Yet these things also make them so difficult. They require far more exactitude than […]