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Showing posts from October, 2014

New Yorker Fiction Review: "The Dinosaurs on Other Planets" by Danielle McLaughlin

Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Story: "The Dinosaurs on Other Planets"

Author:Danielle McLaughlin

Rating: $/Meh

Review: This story was definitely what I'd call a "creeper." Meaning, during the first page it was all I could do to keep my eyes from glazing over; I'd read nutritional labels more interesting. But then, I don't know...McLaughlin managed to push me through that mysterious "wall" that exists in all fiction, the wall that separates you from the author's world, the wall you have to break through in order to really be "inside" the piece. Sometimes you break through that wall early, sometimes you break through it late, sometimes not at all. Sometimes the wall is thick and difficult to get through, sometimes....you get it.

In this story, the "wall" came late and it was hard to get through, but it came. I won't say what I found on the opposite side of the wall was ground-breaking or incredibly noteworthy or what have you, bu…

ProSoccerTalk's EPL Team of the Week

Quick round-up of some of the standout performers of Week 9:

http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/2014/10/28/video-premier-league-team-of-the-week-stars-of-matchday-9/

Sammy Ameobi would definitely get my vote for "Impact Player of the Week" if there were such a thing. His goal vs. Tottenham eight seconds into the 2nd half completely turned the game around for Newcastle and may have turned their whole season around, demonstrating what's possible when sheer hunger and determination are pitted against smugness and complacency.

Sweet Release: Newcastle defeat Spurs on the road...

Well bloody hell...there's life in the Magpies yet. After a lackluster first half which saw them standing around like zombies and allowing the Spurs to go up 1-0 in the 18th minute, Newcastle United turned into a different football team and came back to score two goals in the second half to earn not only their second win, but their first win against a "real" top tier club.

Frankly, the Magpies are lucky that Tottenham didn't go up 5-0 in the first half, given the lifeless way they were playing. It was as if they had no confidence, no spunk, no guts. But then, something happened...

When the players lined up to start the 2nd half, Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi lined up far out on
the left wing while his counterpart on Tottenham, Eric Dier, sort of dilly-dallied his way out onto the pitch. The whistle was blown, and Ameobi made a fast run down the left flank past the still sleeping Dier and, lo and behold, connected with a miraculous through-ball from Jack Colback to …

New Yorker Fiction Review: "Motherlode" by Thomas McGuane

Issue: Sept. 8th, 2014

Story: "Motherlode"

Author: Thomas McGuane

Rating: Triple Meh

Review: You're not going to find someone under the age of 50 more willing to defend Tom McGuane than myself. I was introduced to his books in my late teens by my father, right around the time when I was getting into Hunter S. Thompson. McGuane's early stuff sounded, to me, like the kind of fiction HST would've written had he dedicated his life to fiction and not journalism, and so I loved it. Even if his later novels have gotten a little prosey and difficult to get through, his early works like The Sporting Club and Ninety-Two in the Shade are among my all-time favorite books; the books that have made and will make every move with me no matter where I go or if I ever read them again. I get positively giddy every time I see his name on the ToC of the New Yorker, because I know I'm in for a good yarn about lovably dysfunctional characters living in rural worlds that time has mostly…

New Yorker Fiction Review: "One Saturday Morning" by Tessa Hadley

Issue: August 25th, 2014

Story: "One Saturday Morning"

Author:Tessa Hadley

Rating: Meh

Review: Tessa Hadley is adept at creating ornate little middle-class, 1960s/70s English worlds and peopling them with confused, curious, slightly precocious children and tweenagers and incompletely fleshed-out adult characters. It's as if all of her NYer stories (and maybe her whole oeuvre, I don't really know) could be taking place in the same neighborhood at the same time. While she's expert at creating these worlds she often falls flat when it comes to making anything significant happen within those worlds. We get a lot of detail about what the main character is thinking and feeling but when it finally comes to the plot or the "twist" or just the end-cap to the story, I'm usually left feeling disappointed. This story falls into that category.

With that said, I will admit I liked this story better than all the others I've read from her in the NYer (and that'…

New Yorker Fiction Review: "Picasso" by Cesar Aira

Issue: Aug. 11 & 18th, 2014

Story: "Picasso"

Author:Cesar Aira

Rating: $

Review: As you can see (and assuming you care) I'm doing yet another story out of order here. IDK. It's been a seriously busy autumn with trips to New York, D.C., San Francisco, and W.Va. (yes, West Virginia) all in the space of about five weeks. I've been away from home for weeks at a time, in and out of airports, jolted back and forth cabs, crammed into buses, living out of my suitcase, flopping on whatever hotel bed or spare room or couch happens to be my resting place for the night, eating too much meat, drinking too much booze, never quite getting to settle down even when I do make it home because I know I've got to hit the road again soon. And this weekend I've got ANOTHER trip, this time to Cadillac, Michigan for my good buddy and resident-expert-on-everything Andrew Soliday's bachelor party. All of which is to say: if I haven't been able to do my short fiction reviewi…

New Yorker Fiction Review: "The Refrees" by Joseph O'Neill

Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

Story: "The Referees"

Author:Joseph O'Neill

Rating: Double "Meh"

Review: This story has had plenty of time to simmer inside my head, as I read it about a week ago. And, as your resident expert short fiction reviewer, I can certify that absolutely nothing about this story stayed with me, other than the cutesy little shell-game O'Neill pulls-off with the title to the story (Hint: It's not about sports referees! Tee hee hee...barf). When your story relies on a gimmick like that you're taking a big, big gamble; mostly, you're hoping that your story is good enough to overcome or sort of earn the gimmick. This story did not.

Basically, an under-achiever in his mid-30s is coming off the breakup of a very serious relationship and has decided to move back to New York. In order for him to get the apartment he wants, he must get three character references (hence, the "referees"); however, his proves more difficult than he'd i…