Two really exceptional reviews of Scandamerican Domestic came out in the past few months: one by writer Amy Day Wilkinson for the Missouri Review and another by writer Brigit Kelly Young for Great Lakes Review.
A particularly lovely note from Amy Day Wilkinson’s review: “What’s interesting is that the initial impulses in Merkner stories are often familiar parent impulses—flirt at the grocery store while away from the spouse and kids; make a big promise to kids to atone for bad behavior; call another parent to task on the ways his bad parenting is affecting your household—but they’re impulses most parents don’t act upon. There’s a perverse pleasure in seeing them played out in Merkner’s worlds. And yet what comes when these impulses are acted upon is always more than bargained for: sex in the grocery store, hospitalized children, gunshot wounds, an intentionally broken hand. What comes is also absurd, and it’s this absurdity that makes seeing dark, over-the-top scenarios realized on the page somewhat of a release. Merkner’s stories act as a steam valve; they make us laugh.”
And Brigit Kelly Young writes, “Merkner’s critical depiction of traditional masculinity contains compassion, and therein lies its power. These men are lost. Their understanding of what it is to be men is to withdraw or criticize, and it does their families and themselves no good.”
These reviews are extraordinarily generous. I am very grateful.