Recent Work By Hope Ewing

Happy Rock by Matthew SimmonsThe delicious economy of good short fiction can give you a character in two sentences, a world in a paragraph, or in five words deliver one exquisite detail that captures the gist of an entire story. In his new collection Happy Rock, Matthew Simmons gives us all of these, and over the course of fifteen stories set mostly in rural Michigan, a picture of an author whose loyalties are clearly located among the misfits and mistreated of the upper peninsula of the mainstream.

Dear B.C.,

The Aversive Clause is out from Black Lawrence Press. Terrific. You think you can just waltz on up, dump seventeen weird-ass stories on us in 175 pages, get our hackles up and our issues raised, then depart on a note like “Evitative”? Well, fine. You’ve done it. And it is fucking great.

The inscription preceding Drew Magary’s first novel, The Postmortal (Penguin, August 2011), is a quote from the band Mastodon. Though appropriate for a story about a species in peril, this reference is an unfortunate omen for the novel to come. Mastodon, for the uninitiated, is a popular (and pretty damn great) metal band whose shows are so notoriously populated by knuckle-dragging testosterone junkies that I’ve always been afraid to attend. As a 30-year-old lady geek, this band and many aspects of Magary’s novel are fantastic in concept, exclusionary in practice.

A preface from the reviewer: Those who know me on Tumblr (or from the bar) are privy to my bias against suburban, domestic fiction. The minutiae of bored people facing the pressures of childrearing and their own mortality have never been my cup of tea, even when magnificently depicted.  I have an admitted preference for things that are, well, a little out there.

Embassytown is weird-fantasy rock star China Miéville’s tenth book in as many years, a streak scheduled to continue by one per year according to the Del Rey promo copy.   At his recent reading at Public Assembly in Brooklyn, Miéville, though muscular and imposing with a nice helping of tattoos and metal rings in his ear, looked abashed sitting spot-lit on a stage at an erstwhile rock club.  The room was full; a typically nerdy reading crowd with a smattering of fishnet and black tee subculture kids.  These were his people.