‘An Ordinary Life’ by B.H. Fairchild: The Winding Road of Grief

by Gus Berg

In his latest poetry collection, An Ordinary Life (67 pages; W. W. Norton), B.H. Fairchild, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the author of the collections The Art of the Lathe (1998) and Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest (2002) , doesn’t flinch from the foxholes remembered secondhand in “My Father, Fighting the Fascists in WWII” or from images of a Korean War veteran bagging canned goods without fingers in “Groceries.” Fairchild offers succinct commentary with discrete but vivid imagery, honoring the beauty of small-town scenes with artistry and exactitude, transforming even a Walmart on […]

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‘The Five Wounds’ by Kirstin Valdez Quade: No Such Thing as Sacred Performance

by CJ Green

Amadeo Padilla is preparing for his starring role as Jesus in a Good Friday procession when his estranged 15-year-old daughter, Angel, shows up on his doorstep—eight months pregnant. So begins Kirstin Valdez Quade’s exceptional first novel, The Five Wounds (416 pages; Norton), which she arranges in three sections according to the Church calendar: “Holy Week,” “Ordinary Time,” and “Lent.” We begin in Holy Week, with Amadeo, adrift. He and his daughter have been estranged, and we learn that for weeks at a time, he has forgotten that he has a daughter at all. He is in his thirties, unemployed, lives […]

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‘All the Water I’ve Seen is Running’ by Elias Rodriques: The Unlikeliness of Life

by Ray Levy Uyeda

Elias Rodriques’s All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running (255 pages; Norton) tells the story of Daniel Henriquez, a high school English teacher working in New York who returns home to Florida after he receives news that a friend from his teen years has passed away. The book’s plot takes place in the present, mostly over the course of a few days on the Palm Coast, though Daniel’s interiority takes the reader back in time with him as he retraces memories of his friend Aubrey. Daniel, the mixed-race son of Jamaican immigrants, and Aubrey, a white Southerner whose family proudly […]

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