Today, we bring you reviews of two important debut collections, out this past fall. First up: Alina Grabowski reviews The Babysitter at Rest by Jen George: “The Babysitter at Rest highlights the absurdity of what our own society demands from women, while analyzing the different vessels—men, food, sex—through which these demands are delivered.” Next up, Sarah Hoenicke reviews The Expense of a View by Polly Buckingham: “As the title of the book suggests, this is a collection preoccupied with people who don’t have the capital to obtain a view—either literal or figurative.” Check out these two insightful reviews.
The Babysitter at Rest by Jen George
In the first story of Jen George’s debut collection The Babysitter at Rest, a nameless genderless Guide climbs through the window of the narrator’s apartment to usher her into adulthood. “Despite your lack of intuition,” they tell her, “you may have become aware of the following changes that signal the onset of adulthood: listening to others, doubting everything you think, health problems, understanding of the limitations of time and/or life/living/the individual experience…” the list goes on. Such mounting neuroses are experienced by not only our first narrator, but by all of the female protagonists that populate George’s stories. Given the absurd circumstances surrounding these women, it’s not hard to understand the source of their anxieties. Read more.
The Expense of a View by Polly Buckingham
Our current political conversation often revolves around the financial disparities rampant in American culture. Polly Buckingham’s recent story collection, The Expense of a View, hones in on the lives most impacted by the inequalities this gaping imbalance engenders. Buckingham tells the stories of the system’s most vulnerable—the ill, the partnerless, the parentless, the addicted, the poor, the isolated—exploring what it means to try to be a “healthy” adult when life has always lacked a major component of stability. The Expense of a View won the 2016 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Short Fiction, and was released this past fall from the University of North Texas Press.