Review: The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris

I requested a collection of short stories by Joshua Ferris from NetGalley months ago (I’m running behind). I was familiar with Ferris from two of his earlier books: The Unnamed and Then We Came to the End. In both cases, the premise was sound but the main plot was rehashed repeatedly until I throttled the book and said: “I’ve got it. Can we get on with the story now?” My experience with Ferris’s long fiction is what made me excited to read a collection of shorts. He’s a witty writer who goes for dark humor (which I like). My hope was that the limited page count would leave room for his originality but curb his tendency to wax on. Yet most of the stories in The Dinner Party follow a similar arc despite their range of subjects. read more

Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is misery porn. This isn’t an insult; it’s a descriptor. Misery porn is a sub-genre of memoir built around the thesis: My childhood was worse than yours, but I’m going to be cavalier about it so you know how tough I am. Memoirists can paint their histories however they choose, but it’s near impossible for misery porn to not be a self-indulgent humble-brag: Look how independent I was; look how I persevered; would you have survived my obstacles? True to genre, The Glass Castle is a litany of obstacles in the form of abusive, neglectful parents and grinding poverty. read more