Reviews

Foreign Indiscretions

‘Cartwheel,’ by Jennifer DuBois

By Amity Gaige  |  The New York Times

The Storytellers

Walter Kirn gets taken in by a con man.

By Amity Gaige  |  Slate Magazine

© Slate |  Illustration by Danica Novgorodoff

© Slate |  Illustration by Danica Novgorodoff

© The New York Times | Photograph: Riki Blanco

© The New York Times | Photograph: Riki Blanco

“I can’t believe she did a cartwheel,” Lily Hayes’s mother laments almost halfway through Jennifer DuBois’s psychologically astute second novel, which takes not only its title but its controlling metaphor from this gymnastic feat. The cartwheel in question — performed during an interrogation in a Buenos Aires police station — is so amazingly tone-deaf it ends up casting Lily as the killer of her beautiful American roommate, Katy Kellers, stabbed to death while Lily was navel-gazing in the night without a solid alibi.  read more
 

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows what he does is morally indefensible,” wrote Janet Malcolm in her 1990 tract, The Journalist and the Murderer. “He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.” The accomplished journalist and novelist Walter Kirn, in his fascinating writerly apologia, Blood Will Out, begins under a similar assumption. . . read more
 

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill review – entrancing

The thematic undercurrents – Quebec independence, the effects of a motherless upbringing – swell in this sharply characterised coming-of-age story

By Amity Gaige  |  The Guardian

"I was trying my best to straighten out my life," says Nouschka, "but I always ended up in the middle of some festive waste of time." Play – in the sense of fun-making, as well as performance, or role-play – takes on numerous guises in this exuberantly written coming-of-age story by Heather O'Neill (pictured).  read more

 
 

Short Stories

Belinda

By Amity Gaige  |  Fifty-Two Stories with Cal Morgan

He was sweet, her first husband. Karin met him fresh out of college, at an office party. He was a friend of the boss; she wore an intriguing vintage dress. Looking back years later, the spree of youthful follies seemed almost blameless.

Her first husband was from a moneyed New England family. When Karin first met her in-laws-to-be, it was all she could do to keep up with their jokes and apocryphal stories. She kept looking face to face for clues. The family seemed to have stepped as a cast right out of the same bawdy play: there was the boozy, likeable mother, walking around with her apron and her smudged glass of Tempranillo, the red-faced father whose life was marked by acts of accidental heroism, as when he saved a woman by walking into a building he did not know was afire, and finally the boisterous sister, who came home to stay after her second divorce, and who liked to amuse them all with nihilistic half-truths.  read more

Belinda first appeared in the Yale Review.

The Autobiographical House

By Amity Gaige

I moved into the Armory District in the springtime of my fourth year of college. A handwritten sign on the door of a beat-up china-blue historic home on Dexter Street: Attic/One Bedroom. At the time, the area was full of dropouts like me—storied young people, generously tattooed. I like to think it had a tang of Berlin to it, circa 1990—I mean the contradictions, especially between Broadway and Westminster: RISD types mixed with Dominican muscle men mixed with gay professionals, with a couple defiant elderly people lording over each block. It reminded me a little of old Woonsocket, a place I no longer felt I could return to. For the several months before Dad and Ma discovered I’d left Brown, I walked the district, content to be alone. What I loved best was the building itself—the Armory—a castle-like structure running an entire block of Cranston Street, bookended by two crenellated turrets. In the daylight its bricks were tacky yellow, but in the nighttime the Armory building filled up the West End with its medieval shadow, and remained, since it had been in disrepair for decades, unlit; you could almost hear the dripping of pipes in the great hall. Nobody came in or out.  read more