Posts Tagged ‘Night Beast by Ruth Joffre’

Spring Book Reviews: A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley, The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin, & Night Beast by Ruth Joffre

Spring is in full bloom and wonderful books by debut authors are sprouting up everywhere. Today, we are proud to feature three reviews of titles that should not be missed this spring. First up, our reviewer Jenessa Abrams discusses A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley, a much-lauded debut collection that is out today. She writes: “Brinkley’s brilliant interrogation of what it means to be a man, specifically in the context of the lives of young men separated from their fathers, points to an essential blind spot in our current discourse.”

Next, Tessa Yang reviews Rebekah Frumkin’s first novel, The Comedown: “The Comedown is sprawling, and it is full of intrigue: a vanished father figure, a suitcase full of drug money, a pair of vindictive half-brothers, lots of ill-advised sex. Though the overarching plot can be hard to track, the book delights at the sentence level, where Frumkin masterfully assembles the small details that illustrate two families’ capacities for ruthlessness and love.”

And, finally, Alina Grabowski reviews Ruth Joffre’s debut collection Night Beast, which hits shelves next week. Grabowski writes: “A sense of foreboding threads through these stories, and reading them is like walking through unlit woods, unsure of just what you’ll find. Joffre frequently writes about women who are in trouble, or just a step away from it.”

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley

In the age of the #MeToo Movement and the worldwide cultural shift, at least in awareness, to the ways in which gender and sexuality inform our experience of living in the world, Jamel Brinkley’s debut collection, A Lucky Man, comprised of tenderly poignant narratives of boys becoming men, of fractured intimacy, of masculinity as learned performance, is vital and necessary.

Brinkley’s brilliant interrogation of what it means to be a man, specifically in the context of the lives of young men separated from their fathers, points to an essential blind spot in our current discourse. We are living in a time where the narrative around men can feel singular or reductive: A man is either a savior or a villain. That is not the way that humanity works. People are more nuanced. This becomes even more salient when we add the dimension of race. Men of color are most often portrayed in popular culture as evil, as aggressor. This is a false narrative built upon a history of racism which perpetuates mass incarceration and violence.

Read more.

The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin

I always have a good feeling about a book that opens with a family tree. Something about the promised sprawl, the delicious intrigue captured in those many dates, arrows, question marks, and crisscrossing lines. Rebekah Frumkin’s debut novel does not disappoint on this front. The Comedown is sprawling, and it is full of intrigue: a vanished father figure, a suitcase full of drug money, a pair of vindictive half-brothers, lots of ill-advised sex. Though the overarching plot can be hard to track, the book delights at the sentence level, where Frumkin masterfully assembles the small details that illustrate two families’ capacities for ruthlessness and love.

Read more.

 

 

Night Beast by Ruth Joffre

I was first introduced to Ruth Joffre’s work as an assistant fiction editor at Nashville Review, when we published her story “Some of the Lies I Tell My Children,” in 2016. I was excited to see where her writing would take her, and her debut story collection, Night Beast and Other Stories, does not disappoint. It’s a mysterious and dark book, unafraid of confronting just how bleak life can be. In the title story, the narrator thinks, “…I had the experience not of dread but of knowing that something dreadful was coming and that I’d have to be ready for it.” The same could be said for the reader. A sense of foreboding threads through these stories, and reading them is like walking through unlit woods, unsure of just what you’ll find. Joffre frequently writes about women who are in trouble, or just a step away from it. In “Go West, and Grow Up,” the narrator, a girl who’s been living in the car with her mother for almost a year, narrowly escapes the owner of a dog she’s been petting, a man who slips a hand beneath her coat and says, “Don’t be coy, you must be earning a living somehow.” Read more.