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Raina Lipsitz


When the teller of this story of stories rolls out in the first line of the first page, “Pretend you are my sister,” you suspect you’re in the hands of yet another delightfully manipulative Southern storyteller, which Douglas A. Martin certainly is, but it does nothing to prepare you for a seeming jumble of herky-jerky sentences, half-expressed back and forths, pesky digressions and episodic little gemlits about growing up at the tail-end of the Tobacco Road Erskine Caldwell carried us careening down seventy years ago.


“I can sympathize with people’s pains, but not with their pleasure,” said Aldous Huxley, author of the 1932 novel, Brave New World. “There is something curiously boring about somebody else’s happiness.”


The best story in Don’t Cry, Mary Gaitskill’s latest short story collection, is the title story. Had it appeared first rather than last, her readers might have been eager for the stories that followed.


Invisible, the latest novel from Brooklyn’s prolific Paul Auster, is deftly plotted and compulsively readable.


While Greg Ames’s novel, Buffalo Lockjaw, contains all the elements of a classic Buffalo story—snow, sports, drinking, despair—Ames has created a narrator, James Fitzroy, who rises above caricature.

FICTION: It's a Miraquirk

Christine Lehner’s third novel, Absent a Miracle, is witty, warm, and funny. It successfully blends several different kinds of fiction, echoing (without aping) Anne Tyler’s beautifully observed tales of domestic life, Junot Diaz’s creative use of Latin American history and myth, and Jane Smiley’s avid depictions of sex and the human body.

Fiction: Yet Another Family Drama

Kristina Riggle’s debut novel, Real Life & Liars, is full of unlikable characters who think and speak in clichés.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues