Really nice review from Sue Russell at Library Journal. She generously calls the book “a darkly funny set of stories that look closely at heartland American culture and reflect it back with devastating accuracy.” She […]
She thoughtfully discusses several of the stories, and then concludes with what LJ calls THE VERDICT:
Merkner’s relentlessly deadpan reportorial voice is not so different from that of Garrison Keillor (Lake Wobegon Days) or the Coen brothers (Fargo).
This is kind of a big deal for me; very few reviews have discussed Keillor‘s work when discussing mine. I’m an enormous fan of Keillor, and while I’m not sure the comparisons are many (he is a master at what he does, beyond compare) I appreciate that someone as smart as Sue Russell would see some shared qualities.
And the Coen Brothers? Um, yes. Joel, Ethan, please call.
Her full review:
In his debut collection, Merkner presents a darkly funny set of stories that look closely at heartland American culture and reflect it back with devastating accuracy. In “Time in Normallstorg,” for example, violent war games at a child’s birthday party are not only condoned but encouraged as a means to develop the killer spirit from an early age, and the one parent who complains gets beaten up (and more) by the party’s adult hosts. In “Last Cottage,” the permanent residents of a community doggedly work together to banish the last family from their lakeside vacation home by any means (including massive killing of fish) for the sake of commercial development. But they are perplexed by the resilient cheerfulness of the seasonal visitors, which runs counter to their inbred “Scandamerican” work ethic. VERDICT Merkner’s relentlessly deadpan reportorial voice is not so different from that of Garrison Keillor (Lake Wobegon Days) or the Coen brothers (Fargo). Going in unexpected directions that evoke both laughter and horror, these stories will appeal to readers who are willing to give in to their sense of the absurd. –Sue Russell
Thank you, Sue Russell, and thank you, Library Journal.