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  • Shanley McConnell

Week Twelve: The Monday Review


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1. Bridge Of Clay, Markus Zusak


Markus Zusak's Bridge Of Clay has been on The Monday Review list for a long while now, and (because this week has been a little slow in reading), I thought I'd take the time to write a response. This book was one of my favourites from 2018.


Zusak, author of acclaimed The Book Thief, writes a story that is both thoughtful and inventive; neither distract from the other. Clay, the main protagonist, along with all the other characters, feels so tangible. The narrative centers around five boys living alone in a house; each one seeking his own sense of redemption. The return of their father, never mentioned by name, referred to exclusively as "the Murderer," affects them in unsettling ways.


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2. Calling A Wolf A Wolf, Kaveh Akbar


This collection of poetry was written by Iranian-American poet Kaveh Akbar. It follows a personal narrative through alcoholism to sobriety, addiction to recovery.


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3. Three Women of Chuck's Donuts, Anthony Veasna So


Published by The New Yorker, Anthony Veasna So's "Three Women of Chuck's Donuts" centers around a mother and her two daughters who work at Chuck's Donuts, an "American-style" 24-hour diner. The short story is philosophical in style. Sensitive. Provoked. So questions belonging, placement, experience and ancestry; themes wrapped up in familial relationships.


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4. With the Beatles, Haruki Murakami


Another short story published by The New Yorker. Most of you know that Murakami is one of my favourites short story writers. His prose is succinct, direct and always thoughtful. It reads with a poignancy that is simultaneously aware of itself, and giving to the reader.


Uploaded two-days ago, "With the Beatles" is about coincidence, storytelling, and relationship. Murakami's ability to transition from a seemingly, unrelated peice of information and weave it into the finished project is demonstrated beautifully here, and I highly recommend!


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5. Things We Worried About When I Was Ten, David Rabe


Things We Worried About When I Was Ten is sad, almost frighteningly so. It tells the story of narrator and his friend by proximity, Jackie Rand. The short story cycles inherited violence.


These children spent a lot of time beating one another up. But who could blame them? With dads who "built machines," "tore machines apart," "dug up the earth," "repaired automobiles" and "hammered houses into shape." Dads who "slaughtered cows and pigs at the meatpacking company." Men who relied on their hands, and used them. With "overworked mothers" also sharp-tempered and as "quick with a sleep as they were with fits of coddling." This violence had become familial code.


I'd never read David Rabe's work before, and I found that his style makes this read compelling.


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6. Flash Fiction: "Courage," Daniel Smith


This was a brilliant read.


Growing up, I hadn't read much flash-fiction. I didn't even know it could be considered "literary." How completely wrong I was ~ this form, it is powerful. Almost like poetry to me.


Smith's "Courage" reflects on the idea that one's courage can be a faux, and in this, become real. The sentences are thoughtful + easy to read, and I highly recommend.


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