July 8, 2023
This week we’re highlighting writing by women, two of whom you can meet at events at The Center. We have short stories about women by one of the best practitioners of any generation, a dangerous mother, a dangerous sister, a young woman in a remote forest, and two debut novels from poets: a coming-of-age debut among Warhol Factory denizens, and the story of Black sisters navigating a very white New England.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Published by Random House
Being part of one of only two Black families in a late-’50s small Maine town could be isolating but Ezra and Cinthy grew up feeling loved and protected. The onset of the Civil Rights era begins to shift that. The two sisters are faced with prejudice and “as news from other corners of America began to cover conflicts over freedom, equality, and justice for Negroes, our presence started to agitate the villagers….” Griffiths’s novel is a small family story that illuminates the larger history of American racism. Stunning work from a writer so multi-talented she even consulted on design for a new opera by Tracy K. Smith.
After the Funeral and Other Stories
By Tessa Hadley
Published by Knopf
U.K. author Hadley (Late in the Day) evokes the writers she most admires: Elizabeth Bowen, Alice Munro, and Mavis Gallant. In the title story, a mother of two intrepid girls is adrift after the sudden death of her husband. Hadley’s visually arresting descriptions of the family members include “a poisonous puff-ball in a mushroom-coloured trouser suit.” In “Men,” a hotel housekeeper spies her long-estranged beautiful sister on the arm of a wealthy guest while her daughters, playing in an empty room, furtively pilfer random treasures—a page from the Holy Bible, nuts from the mini-fridge. Mothers, daughters, lovers all congregate is this essential collection..
By Ruth Madievsky
Published by Catapult
The inextricable bond of sisters is the topic of this poet’s stellar debut about a toxic, co-dependent relationship in drug-fueled Los Angeles. Our narrator’s sister is Debbie, who has always held sway over her and influenced their wild life of clubs and pills. Now Debbie is gone and a Russian psychic is enlisted to solve the mystery of her disappearance. Madievsky, a Moldovan Jewish refugee, “wanted to write the next Jesus’ Son, to write with a voice that pressed me down to my red blood cells.” Starting out as a collection of stories, it was transformed into a propulsive novel about complicated women.
At the Edge of the Woods
By Kathryn Bromwich
Published by Two Dollar Radio
“…in the trees here there are no mirrors, or others in whose glances I can see myself reflected, only the astringent cold stinging my eyes and the soft sweet smell of growth and decay.“ Laura is a self-exiled woman who has mysteriously fled to a remote cabin in an Italian forest. This is one of those succinct, eerie stories that will haunt you. Read on for the revelations that answer questions about her past and unravel what is, in fact, real. What is she is escaping from? How will the curious residents deal with her unsettling presence? Nature looms large, as does Laura’s reckoning with her femininity..
By Nicole Flattery
Published by Bloomsbury
With fans like Sally Rooney, this Irish writer seems poised to make a splash. When Mae visits her alcoholic mother in a retirement village, she recalls that, “she was always exceptionally good with women, who both admired and were terrified of her.” Flattery’s debut novel is full of well-drawn challenging women. Set mostly in ’60s Manhattan, Mae’s journey of self-discovery includes transcribing recordings made by Warhol in a milieu that values being seen as a measure of self-worth. The title, “Nothing Special,” is the name of a TV show he once wanted to create. It’s a great play on words from an author with something very special to offer.