Alan McMonagle, “Ithaca”

“Our town was slap-bang in the middle of the country, miles from anywhere, and built inside a hole made out of a bog, weeds, mulch, and the soggiest soil you might ever see. If that wasn’t bad enough, we were surrounded by a dirty black drain that spent its time fooling everyone into thinking it was a river. There were two sides to our town. The rich side on the hill beyond the railway tracks and the side we lived on. The ghetto, ma called it.”

The narrator of Alan McMonagle’s Ithaca is 11-year-old Jason Lowry. We’re in interior Ireland. Times are hard. And Jason has finally decided it’s time to look for his da. Walking down the back lane of the ghetto, we’re quickly introduced to a host of characters. Harry Brewster. Fergel Flood. Patrick Fox. Lily Brennan. And two bullies Jason calls “Brains and No Brains McManus.” Everybody seems to know everybody else’s business.

Jason is heading to The Swamp. “Drifts of steam floated above the surface scum. Nettles bunched around the cracked edges. Giant dock-leaves spread out and fluttered. There were nudges and clammy webs. Flies dizzy with excitement.” Jason runs into “the girl.”  She’s a “wisp of a thing in dungarees.” 

The girl has an active mind. She imagines places to travel, including Egypt and Rome. She scoffs at Jason’s search for his father. 

Ithaca is drenched in Jason’s yearning. He’s got plenty of reason to want to leave, including an alcoholic mother. The ongoing conversations with “the girl” are brisk and lively. Jason is our eyes and ears around town, a narrator who seems to see all. Jason is full of commentary about the denizens of a “dimly lit” pub, a place called McMorrow’s, and Rich Hill (the other side of the tracks). 

What works so well in Ithaca is the contrast of keen-eyed, sharp-witted Jason amid such bleak surroundings, both the people and the town. Jason is the “hooded pipsqueak” who sees all, hears all. Jason takes a seat at a bar and orders a drink like any other adult (he’s given a Fanta instead). He is part of the town’s flow.

Jason’s yearning for his ‘da’ is tangible, visceral. Jason self-harms. He cuts himself. He writes the word ‘DA’ with his own blood.

“I’m waiting. You hear me? Waiting for you to come and get me. Then we can go and live out our days together. Wherever you want. Doing whatever you decide. Maybe we can be the wandering kind. Restless explorers in the big world. Sailors aboard your yacht. Following the sun around the world. Mooring at a different port every day.”

You won’t blame Jason for what he wants and how desperately he wants it. He’s growing up in a “hole” surrounded by a “dirty black drain.” 

Empathy oozes from every syllable for Jason and his plight. There’s a magic moment when the light bulb goes off for us readers and we realize Ithaca is about mental health, what we do to survive, the power of imagination, and the power of story. And myth.

Witty, engaging, colorful, and lively, Ithaca is a pleasure to read. The setting is depressing. Jason counters the darkness with a mountain of humanity. 

Sara Gran, “The Book of The Most Precious Substance”

Kind of whacky, quite breezy, and compulsively readable.

The Book of the Most Precious Substance goes down like candy. Got a beach blanket? Need something low-cal? Here you go.

The idea is irresistible. Because who doesn’t think the next book they grab might change their life?

Novelist Lily Albrecht is our narrator. She’s a novelist. She makes ends meet with work as a rare book dealer.  In Manhattan, she’s approached by a fellow book dealer. His name is Shyman. He asks for her help finding The Book of the Most Precious Substance. He knows of a buyer who will pay high six figures, maybe more. Lily soon discovers that the book is “the rarest, most sought after book in the entire bibliography of the occult.” Oh my.

Lily shares her interest in the book with Lucas Markson, one of her regular customers. Lucas is an acquaintance. Or maybe a friend. Lily isn’t sure of Lucas’ status in her life. Lucas is head of a rare books department at a big university library. Lucas is “suspiciously normal,” but he’s read all of Lily’s works—a novel, six short stories, and eight personal essays.

Shyman turns up dead. He’s left behind a “little notebook” with clues that might lead Lily and Lucas to a copy of The Book of the Most Precious Substance. “Suddenly it all seemed silly,” Lily thinks. “Like something from a movie. A lost book, a dead bookseller, Lucas and his fake smiles and hidden awkwardness, his veneer of sophistication—ridiculous, all of it.”

The book in question, it’s claimed, promises sexual rapture or something or other to those who can endure, complete, or run the gauntlet of prescribed things the book details to reach the top of the mountain where sex and power do something magical. Step one involves generating sweat but with the “right intent” and then saying a word and touching that sweat “from unfulfilled desire” on a symbol in the book and saying the word at the right time. Because when you touch the fluid to the seal on the book you give the book power and that’s how it works. And, yeah, that’s step one.

And we’re off to Los Angeles, New Orleans, Munich, and Paris with Lily and Lucas on the hunt, looking for wealthy book lovers who might have reason to want to own my precious. Lily is able to travel the world in search of this book in part because her husband, Abel, has a neurogenerative disease and does not communicate. Lily’s sense of loss about her relationship with Abel is strong. He’s never far from Lily’s thoughts. She lets us know that she was loyal to Abel as long as he was, well, able. But his incapacity makes it convenient for Lily to do what a good book dealer has got to do, including all those prescribed sexual stunts. In fact, finding the book would help Lily and Abel financially so it’s okay (we guess) that she’s getting what she wants and/or needs.

“Much of my life was a dreary grind in which I was responsible for everything, always. For someone else to take that responsibility, even for a few minutes, was pure pleasure. Lucas kissed me again. When my mouth softened against his, with no effort from me—with something more like the opposite of effort … ”

It’s all kind of page-flipping zany. Can Lucas be trusted? How far will Lily and Lucas go? Yeah, there’s a fair amount of sex; it’s all a tad clinical because we’re never quite sure if Lily is all that into Lucas. This is for the search, right? This is for the big payday, right?

There are lessons to be learned about the purpose of magic and its selfish qualities. I think. And there’s a love story here, too, amid all the chaos. Once you succumb to the giant conceit that such a book might exist, reading on is something like the opposite of effort.

Ted Conover, “Cheap Land Colorado”

Ted Conover works as an immersive journalist. He rode the rails with hoboes (Rolling Nowhere). He embedded with Mexican immigrants moving back and forth across the U.S. border for work and for their families back home (Coyotes). He traveled the world exploring the impact of road development from Peru to The Himalayas (The Routes of Man). He worked as a prison guard in the fabled Sing-Sing prison (Newjack). And, drawing from his nearly forty-year career, he’s also written a guide to his style of reporting (Immersion).

Now Conover turns his attention to the San Luis Valley of Colorado and the people who choose to live in sparse, off-grid fashion in often crude trailers, shacks, and campers. Cheap Land Colorado—Off-Gridders At America’s Edge is an engrossing, captivating account of the wide variety of individuals and families who live in these stark, austere conditions. And why.

Conover starts out working with a social service group called La Puente, based in Alamosa. His mentor, Matt Little, cautions Conover not to wear anything blue. The last thing you want when you’re cold-knocking on doors is to be mistaken for a Costilla County code enforcement officer. (Lack of septic systems is a big issue.)

Working for La Puente, Conover brings firewood to the residents and starts, slowly, easing himself into the community. To the surprise of nobody who has read one of Conover’s previous books, characters emerge. We meet Armando, Paul, Kea and Rhonda. The “flats,” both its inhabitants and its topography, turn three-dimensional and kaleidoscopic. There are stories of hard luck, struggling individuals with suicidal thoughts, hard-scrabble folks who possess a simple desire to be left alone, and others who live quite content, thank you, not needing much of anything.  Some like the remote location in order to grow their own marijuana and consume it.

Conover, as he has done in all his books, monitors his own impressions and reactions even as he takes copious notes about those he interviews. Conover, who grew up in Denver but lives and teaches in New York, doesn’t hide his own wariness about how he will he be perceived or whether he will be accepted.

“Just about every aspect of this passage intrigued me. I was going into the wild, a place with more pronghorn antelope, feral horses, and coyotes than people. But it also felt at times like a postapocalyptic landscape à la Mad Max, with ruins of old vehicles and junk and things that had burned, some of them still smoking. When the subdivisions have been created, presumably each new road had been marked by a street sign. Most of these now seem to have disappeared, with the occasional remainders evocative of a faded dream, an enterprise that didn’t work out. Instead of an American suburb circa the 1970s, I was headed, in winter, to the far margins to live among the outcasts, the self-sufficient, the alienated., the weed fiends, the wounded, the dreamers, and the hermits.”

Conover buys a 25-foot trailer for $4,000. He plunks it down on a property owned by Frank and Stacy Gruber, whose menagerie includes five children, a Saint Bernard, a ferocious Chihuahua mix, a smart heeler, and a couple of boxers. The Grubers serve as Conover’s home base and connection into the community. Over a four-year period, Conover made 20 trips to the valley, staying for several weeks or a few months at a time. (His teaching gig prevented him from moving in full time.)

Conover’s approach is organic, unforced, and chock full of empathy. He gives a voice to those who didn’t necessarily ask for one. He shows us people helping others with basic needs and simple outreach. Life, death, hopes, dreams, survival, struggle, and renewal. What appears at first to be a series of fiercely independent and solitary individuals who happen to share the same expanse of prairie turns out to be a group that has developed its own unique sense and style of community. Beauty emerges.

In all his previous immersive experiences, Conover was content to walk away when the journalistic work was done. But this time? Well, no spoilers here. But like any great book, it’s a love story in the end.

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Note: This review originally published in Four Corners Free Press (November 2022).

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Previously reviewed: Immersion

Previous Q & A with Ted Conover: Routes of Man

James Sallis, “The Long-Legged Fly”

“It’s strange how little is left of our lives once they’re rendered down, once they’ve started becoming history. A handful of facts, movements, conflicts, that’s all the observer sees. An uninhabited shell.”

We’re in New Orleans. 1964. Lew Griffin’s office is above a bakery. The sign on his door—“Investigations”—is missing the v. Lew is envious of the letter, which he believes has escaped. Lew is overdrawn at the bank. He drinks (putting it mildly) bourbon. He’s known so well at his favorite haunt that the bartendress brings him a fresh drink when he gets stuck on the phone in the corner. “It went down like a wire brush.”

Lew’s father is in the hospital, but he can’t go visit because he’s got a case that’s about to break. Or is he avoiding something? Lew goes back to the bar and orders three straight doubles. Thinks, “How many of these was it that killed Dylan Thomas?”

Lew hits another bar, gets cut off, wakes up in the morning with his tongue feeling “like somebody’s dirty glove. Little men with jackhammers and earth-moving machinery were rebuilding the inside of my head.”

Lew (at first) is a boozy, jaded, cynical private eye. He’s a former US Army MP whose penchant for busting heads led to a premature discharge, though he did avoid a court martial and the psychiatric hospital. Lew Griffin is a guy who avoids his office and tends to avoid cases. We know this guy. Then Lew gets asked to look into a situation that involves a “matter of some discretion.”  “Only a brother could handle.” It’s a matter of the disappearance of a black female leader, Corene Davis. 

This is only the first episode of four. We’ll soon skip ahead to 1970, 1984, and end up in 1990. The Long-Legged Fly is three novellas and one short-story coda in one (and it’s all lean and sleekly paced to begin with). Lew Griffin wins, Lew Griffin loses. Briefly, he believes he has “chipped off a little corner of the good life.” He thinks he’s settling down, but the anger is coming back. “Robert Johnson’s hellhound was nipping at my heels.”

Then, detox. Then, something changes. Then, “I felt like someone long underwater, sucking in those first lungfuls of precious air.” He meets Vicky. She’s British. She’s white. And a nurse. She wonders how Lew fits into a city she sees as “hard and unyielding.”  She wants him to come to Europe. But Lew would miss his blues and jazz. He believes being an American is something he’s just got to deal with. They both know their Henry James.

The Long-Legged Fly is loaded with great lines, images, and insights.

“An Upper Mississippi accent, planed away by college and ambition.”

“Socrates is part of an old section of houses chopped up into apartments and strange corridors that would be slums in any other city but here are just where poor folks live. A lot of them, oddly, seem to be black. And of course they’re only poor (so the rest of the great American fairy tale goes) because somehow they choose to be.”

“I lay in bed watching her pull on white stockings, creased slacks, uniform top. There’s something about all that white, the way it barely contains a woman, its message of fetching innocence and concealment, that reminds us how much we remain impenetrable mysteries to one another. We circle one another, from time to time drawing closer, more often mewing apart, just as we circle our own confused, conflicting feelings.”

“But the world doesn’t change, and mostly we don’t either, we just go on looking into the same mirror, trying on different hats and expressions and new sets of vice, opinion and prejudice; pretending, as children do, to see and feel things that are not there.”

First published in 1992 and long before the issues prompted by books like The Help or American Dirt and many others, The Long-Legged Fly should be Exhibit A in freeing writers to work with characters of any race (as long as they bring this much empathy and humanity to the page).

Lew even becomes a writer and spins out novels about a Cajun detective, Boudleuax. Since Lew reads Proust and all of Chekhov, we have a hunch he’ll give that Cajun dude plenty of weight despite his lack of experience from living as a Cajun. Lew has finished his B.A. and now teaches, too. “As you get older you need some way of staying in touch with the young, something to keep your head working and turning, something to plow uprooting presumptions, new faces, new crops.” Isn’t that what writing about any character involves? Uprooting presumptions? Sallis even seems to anticipate the issue when Lew Griffin realizes that the more he writes about the “crazy Cajun” Boudleaux, “the less I relied on my imagination, using experiences and people of my own past, writing ever closer to my life.” 

No wonder that “on page ninety-seven a red-haired nurse materialized without warning, tucking in the edges of Boudleaux’s sheets (he’d been involved in a traffic accident) as she rolled her r’s.”

Sure, The Long-Legged Fly has the bones of crime fiction. But it’s about identity, false fronts, posing, a search for self and, oh yeah, a love story too. Lew’s cases involves new identities, disappearance, reinvention. The Long-Legged Fly is also about a yearning for truth. Memory, we learn, is a poet. Not a reporter.

But to us, Lew Griffin is far more than a handful of facts and a few conflicts. Lew is thoroughly three-dimensional. We are deep inside his shell.   

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Final note: Soho Press recently reissued the entire Lew Griffin series.  Good move.

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Previously reviewed:

Sarah Jane

Eli Cranor, “Don’t Know Tough”

Powerful. Heavy. Dry.

Don’t Know Tough sets a cool tone. That cool vibe never wavers. When the drama builds—and there’s plenty of it—the prose keeps a steady beat. That’s a style thing to notice and not a comment on the story itself, but Eli Cranor’s calm execution pulled me along in that matter-of-fact mode that generated veracity like a brick layer building an impenetrable wall one slap of mortar at a time.

Cranor alternates third-person point of view with first. The first-person chapters are told from the perspective of Billy Lowe. Billy is a high school kid in Denton, Arkansas. A senior. He’s not a happy kid. He’s got issues. For good reason. Cranor gives Billy a voice that’s clipped, rough, and blunt. It’s missing prepositions and conjunctions.

“Still feel the burn on my neck. Told coach it was ringworm this morning when he picked me up, but it ain’t. It a cigarette, or at least what a lit cigarette do when it’s stuck in your neck. Just stared at Him when He did it. No way I’m gonna let Him see me hurt. No way. Bit a hole through the side of my cheek, swallowed blood and just stared at him. Tasted blood all day.”

The voice takes some getting used to. Soon, the rhythms kick in. Rhythms and character. You get to a point where you feel like you want to climb into the story and do what you can to relieve all the pressure and pain coming down on Billy Lowe. The capital H “He” and “Him” in that section above is Travis Rodney, who lives in the same trailer as Billy and “Momma.” He’s not Billy’s daddy. “He got a bottle of NyQuil in His hand. Drink NyQuil most of the time, save His whiskey up. He pull from the bottle and wipe His mouth with the back of His sleeve.”

To make it worse, Billy lives in the shadow of his older brother. Ricky holds most of the high school records for touchdowns. And tackles.

Billy takes out his anger about cigarette burns and abuse on a sophomore linebacker during practice. The boy is from a prominent family, but Billy doesn’t care. “The boy a poser. He don’t know tough. Don’t know nothing.”

The vicious hit puts Billy’s playing time in jeopardy. He might miss Senior Night and he might miss hearing his name being called and the whole town cheering for him at high school, “the only good looking building in the whole damn town.” The Denton Pirates have dreams of going deep in the playoffs. They need Billy. But the hit was so hard the principal is half-tempted to call the cops.

The third-person sections mostly feature Trent Powers, the fresh new coach from California. He considers Billy Lowe “a sawed-off white boy with tree trunk thighs … a pit bull.” Trent thinks: “Arkansas hills produces crazy like the Earth’s mantle produces diamonds: enough heat and pressure to make all things hard.”

Billy’s predicament over the appropriate punishment for the on-field roughness prompts one cascading series of action. Trent’s arrival triggers another raft of conflicts and the novel’s stewing brew of disruption and danger.

Trent comes with plans. He thinks football is a tool to teach boys “how to be better husbands and fathers—better men.” And Trent believes this is “all part of God’s plan.” Gulp. The coach wants to save Billy Lowe just as a coach once saved him. And Trent doesn’t believe in a passive approach when it comes to praying or religion. A cross on an office wall isn’t enough. Trent prays with his eyes open.

Readers are well advised to pay attention to every single character Cranor puts in this well-populated story. Cranor plays fair. Close reading will be rewarded but you might find yourself scrambling back at the end and say to yourself, “I should have seen it.” Sure, Don’t Know Tough is crime fiction but fiction first, crime and mystery second.

All the effort to help Billy Lowe succeed feels legit. Trent Powers isn’t the only one with a plan for Billy, but the stakes are higher because Trent can’t afford to lose—again. He needs Billy on the field. (Despite all the football context, by the way, there’s very little football in Don’t Know Tough; the sport is Denton’s water and blood. And, smartly, when the “dismal tide” rises, the climactic scene takes place in a dark cave, not on the gridiron.)

Don’t Know Tough is a novel about expectations, legacies, reputations, rituals, religion, and culture and their impact on community, team, tribe, and family. 

Winning is the thing—and that applies both to football teams and all the ways in which families find to keep score.

Read Don’t Know Tough. It’s quite a ride. 

Susan Orlean, “The Library Book”

I’m biased. I’m the son of two librarians. My father worked to connect libraries via computers in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He worked at MIT in Cambridge on something called Information Transfer Experiments. Project INTREX. He was the first executive director of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science in 1971. He died in 1979. My mother worked in executive libraries and was director of libraries at a small college. Plus, she read books like the rest of us drink water. The home library, when she died in 1986, was enormous. Okay, voluminous.   

I grew up steeped in books. And learning. And I dug libraries, too. I got the book bug early. As Susan Orlean suggests in The Library Book, libraries cast a spell. That sense of not knowing what you might discover and carry home. For free.

As with Orlean, the massive fire at the Los Angeles Central Library in 1989 didn’t really register on my news radar as a big deal at the time. There was bigger news. Specifically, what was transpiring at Chernobyl. The fire at the library happened as the same day that the Soviets reported the accident.

The Library Book catches us all up on what happened on that April 29 in downtown Los Angeles. And, with Orlean at the helm, the fire serves as a spark (er, flashpoint) for dozens of related threads and narratives from the history of the Los Angeles library system to the use of book burning as a political weapon around the world. We get glimpses of the people who manage various collections in the library (maps, photographs, etc.). We get a brief portrait of young Los Angeles writer Ray Bradbury and the development of a short story called “The Fireman” which later became the novel Fahrenheit 451. (Bradbury often wrote in the basement of a library at UCLA.)  

We get a thoughtful discussion on how libraries manage the homeless and security in general. We learn about book thefts. We learn about how libraries were once a male-dominated work environment and gradually shifted to females. We get a compelling history of early days of the development of the library and the swashbuckling stories that went with it. We watch reference librarians answering questions via telephone. And Orlean writes about how libraries started to innovate and embrace the abundance of free information on the internet (much sooner than you might think). 

And Orlean writes a brief chapter about how hard it is to light one single book on fire.

All these threads are niftily interwoven with the arson investigator’s ongoing work to find a culprit for the fire and, in particular, hang the case on the hapless wannabe actor Harry Peak. The arson investigation alone, and the accompanying skepticism about how difficult it is to analyze fire-related evidence, would make for a great non-fiction narrative drama. (Well, it’s pretty much all here in The Library Book.)

Peak’s story about his whereabouts on the day of the fire keeps changing—and changing again. And he finally lawyers up. And then, well, no spoilers here. The profile of Peak is fascinating. Orlean tracks her own thinking about Peak’s level of guilt, too, and shows us her thought process, the same kind of curious mind that led her down so many rabbit holes that come together here.

The best thing about The Library Book, in my biased opinion, is that it makes a case for library health as a measure of a community’s openness. Libraries encourage open minds. They encourage wonder. And exploration.

“Destroying a library is a kind of terrorism,” Orlean writes. “People think of libraries as the safest and most open places in society. Setting them on fire is like announcing that nothing, and nowhere, is safe … Books are a sort of cultural DNA, the code for who, as a society, we are, and what we know. All the wonders and failures, all the champions and villains, all the legends and ideas and revelations of a culture last forever in its books. Destroying those books is a way of saying that the culture itself is no longer exists; its history has disappeared; the community between its past and its future is ruptured.”

Well said. My parents would have heartily agreed.

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Previously reviewed:

Rin Tin Tin

Lisa C. Taylor, “Impossibly Small Spaces”

Note: this review was originally published by Four Corners Free Press (October 2022):

A couple meets at the airport. No, not how you might think. They are both there to greet arriving passengers on a plane. Except the plane crashes. And Carol and Errol turn to each other. (I mean, quickly.) Together in grief, they forge a relationship. Errol’s lost his wife on what was to be their sixth anniversary. She was three months pregnant so Errol lost two people, “one just a sliver of life on the ultrasound.” Carol had lost her husband to another man. The story, “Salt and Blue,” is brisk bit of healing. And wondering.

In “Scientia,” a pharmacist named Carla is facing a revolt by her fingers and limbs—a right forefinger stops working, an ankle gives out while skiing. She banters with carefree Carlos, a pharmacy student who wants her to come to Puerto Rico or some sunny clime and open a drug store. Carla is more practical.

“Carlos texted me a picture of himself eating fried plantains and sofrito. He was wearing giant sunglasses. I told him I had to work tomorrow. My loans would eat up my income for the next 20 years. When I was an adequately-compensated pharmacist I would think about vacations that didn’t include moldy-looking sofrito.”

But it turns out that Carla’s body knows best and her limbs behave when it gets what it wants.

And the funny and poignant title story, “Impossibly Small Spaces,” starts like this:

“My muscles had just started to unclench when the airplane bathroom door opened. I hid the vape pen behind my back.

‘Sorry,’ he took a few backward steps. I grabbed him by his loose-fitting sweatshirt and closed the door.”

Hildy is the one with the vape pen in the airplane bathroom. She lives in a remote Colorado cabin without indoor plumbing and is on her way to visit a friend in Florida, preferrable to the miserable conditions in the old homestead home where she hears things and fears bears. “I recorded a message once a week just to hear my own voice and establish proof of my own existence.”

The guy Hildy pulls into the bathroom is Neil, on his way to Florida to win custody of his daughter from an ex. Hildy thinks about her relationship with her dead mother, who drank herself to death. Neil thinks about the mistakes he made raising his daughter. “Impossibly Small Spaces” impossibly covers a host of issues in its few fast pages—parenting, reinvention, do-overs, histories and futures, coincidence, fate, and so on.

None of these 17 stories give itself over to easy summarization. Lisa C. Taylor packs the narratives with the touch of a master distiller. We focus down to the essence of moments and characters intertwined. These are all meaty stories that reward re-reading. Love, babies, families, and pregnancies abound.

Taylor’s prose asks the reader to pay attention. Taylor is also a well-published poet.  She’s won many awards and teaches writing online. Her fondness for words is apparent. The writing throughout “Impossibly Small Spaces” carries a sweet breeze of freshness with lots of humor. “My apartment is modest by modest standards.”  “She returned me like a pair of shoes that didn’t fit right because I wasn’t her flesh and blood.” “The murkiness gave way to true darkness, rain intermittent but persistent enough that our conversation was punctuated by the swish and tap of the windshield wipers.”

We often start in full stride (such as the airplane bathroom scene) and leave before the race is finished. Taylor isn’t afraid to make us feel disoriented at first, but then catches us up—without any handholding whatsoever. Witness the opening paragraph of “Scorpion:”

“Not even nine o’clock and everything spinning like that doomed farmhouse in the Wizard of Oz. Metal against metal and then an explosion after the black Lexus plowed into the side of her car, glass strewn across the seat like confetti. Searing pain and a bang as the airbag inflated. She landed on her back in a clearing where Casey had once crouched in her favorite pink shorts to pick up a snakeskin, sneakers crunching over branches.”

Who wouldn’t want to read more?

Taylor engages us with characters often in crisis or at least at crossroads with secrets to discover or divulge. Read “Impossibly Small Spaces” and find your world expanding with every turn of the page.