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In “Notifications,” Lincoln Michel looks closely at how a person's day can be awkwardly reconfigured by an algorithm. Michel's stories frequently adjust the knobs of the present and settle in the uncanny valley, like Saunders's, or amplify a feeling that something is fundamentally off with our timeline. Here, Michel explores the emotional implications of technology, a sort of hard sci-fi realism that drops the reader into a plausible hologram of workplace interaction. The always overthought, dreamlike logic is not dissimilar to the way a Kafka story, like “The Judgment,” operates. Kafkaesque indecision, but now with cell phones!

from The God of Good Looks

Bianca Bridge, the protagonist of The God of Good Looks, is a young aspiring writer whose literary prospects disappear once her affair with a married politician is exposed. Shunned by the elite circle she was raised in, she agrees to take a position at a beauty magazine run by Obadiah Courtland, a makeup artist known for his cutting remarks. Mc Ivor deftly uses these two characters, each born occupying opposite positions in Trinidad's rigid class hierarchy, to explore the facades people need to create in order to succeed in the face of systematic negligence and oppression and the courage it takes to tear them down.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

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