Riverrun

Dancers on the Shore by William Melvin Kelley: More, please

Originally published in I964, William Melvin Kelley’s Dancers on the Shore comprises sixteen stories some of which recall the characters who brought his striking novel A Different Drummer so vividly to life. Its title refers to a lengthy quote from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness setting the tone for a thought-provoking read. Several of the …

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Cover image for True Story by Kate Reed Petty

True Story by Kate Reed Petty: Truth is in the eye of the beholder

Kate Reed Petty’s debut was the subject of a great deal of pre-publication brouhaha in my neck of the Twitter woods, including four different covers for advance reviewer copies, all of which appear on the published edition. I landed the dark one featuring a cabin in the woods setting me up for something rather sinister. …

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Cover image for Tyll by daniel Kehlmann

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (transl. Ross Benjamin): Telling truth to power

I’ve read all of Daniel Kehlmann’s translated novels, each very different from the others but all witty and smart. His last book, You Should Have Left, was a short, gothic number, both chilling and riveting. In comparison Tyll is a lengthy, historical novel set against the backdrop of the Thirty Years War which raged across …

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A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley: Sadly pertinent

First published in 1962 at the height of the Civil Rights movement, William Melvin Kelley’s A Different Drummer was championed earlier this year by the New Yorker who dubbed Kelley a ‘lost giant of American literature’. His novel is set in 1957 in an unnamed Southern state where the descendent of a slave performs an …

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You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann (transl. Ross Benjamin): Short but not sweet

I’m a great fan of Daniel Kehlmann’s fiction which is why I was so keen to see his first play, The Mentor, premiered in my home town’s Ustinov Studio a couple of months ago. There I was all agog, tickets at the ready only to be too unwell to attend on the night but I …

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The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam: There isn’t one

This novel is unlikely to appeal to everyone although we should all read it. It’s about assisted suicide, one of the great moral dilemmas of the twenty-first century Western world where medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds but not the ethical framework for dealing with its unintended consequences. Steven Amsterdam’s sharp, funny novel explores …

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