A sustained, glowing review just came in from Heather Partington for Issue 141 of Bookslut! In what I think might be the longest review SD has enjoyed, Partington notes that I am not “afraid to look into dark spaces and expose painfully honest truths.” I find this […]
I find this particularly rewarding because I do worry a good deal over the darkness of the stories. I don’t take darkness lightly, and I don’t find irreverence a productive response to darkness, at least not in its own right. That Partington finds the stories “witty” means a lot to me, because I do see wit as inconsistent with irreverence, and I prefer–which is to say I believe in the merits of–the former over the latter.
I also like this paragraph from the review:
Merkner’s book is in some ways the anti-Domestic, turning ideas of sentimentalism and inherent goodness of mankind on their heads. These are stories that end in moments sharp as knives: blood spills, hooks pierce eye sockets, bones break. Merkner’s writing doesn’t shy away from rough images. This lack of sentimentalism enables him to write humor through pain, humor through awkwardness, and humor through fatigue, lending the collection accessibility even in the most extreme stories.
Hugely important to me, this idea of accessibility. I am increasingly self-conscious about the privilege of reading, and Partington is right to note that humor (particularly dark humor) can run into smugness very quickly. And I do worry that I’m not always above board on this count. Much to consider as I move forward on my next project.
At any rate, it’s a great review in full: Bookslut Reviews The Rise & Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic