Bookshots: 'Intimations' By Alexandra Kleeman
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
Who wrote it?
Acclaimed novelist and Young Lions Finalist, Alexandra Kleeman.
Plot in a box:
It’s a short story collection, so there’s a whole bunch of funny little plots.
Invent a new title for this book:
Read this if you like(d):
Vampires In The Lemon Grove By Karen Russell
Meet the book’s lead(s):
Please see ‘Plot In A Box’.
Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:
Please see ‘Meet The Book’s Lead(s)’.
Setting: Would you want to live there?
Please see ‘Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by’.
What was your favorite sentence?
The fact of two sisters allows for escape within a situation that is hostile or unfair. Certain species of cicadas lie dormant in their burrows for seventeen years of hibernation, before bursting forth to eat and eat and fly about in the air."
“A Brief History Of The Weather”
I’m hit and miss with impressionistic short fiction. I love the interplay of language; of how violence and humor so often mix together and create a dark soup of hysterical metaphor, like the Marx Brothers dressed in pink tutu’s while joyfully hacking away at each other with meat cleavers. Karen Russell, Amelia Gray, and Ottessa Moshfegh all play in this territory of the surreal with typically humbling results. Stories that are filled with beauty, horror, and laughter all the while actually telling a compelling narrative.
But what so often leaves me cold with the style is that sometimes it just doesn’t have a beat I can dance to, AKA a plot. I typically don’t require much of one, even something as vague as trimming your toenails or your family attempting to build a weather machine will keep me turning pages. But when the author loses sight of plot is when a story or novel loses me.
Now I won’t say that Alexandra Kleeman’s debut short fiction collection, Intimations, lost me. But there was more than a few times where the poetry of her stories weighed just a bit too heavily and I fumbled through them without much interest of what was happening on the page. Yes, the language was beautiful, captivating even. But what was the point of the story? And, of course, I would ask myself, does there have to be a point? Can’t a story just be about the language, the imagery, and the raw emotional power it evokes?
But you have to know all of this walking into Intimations. You have to know that you’re going to be reading a very interesting and challenging author, and like most challenging, impressionistic fiction, it’s not going to be for everyone. But for those willing to take the trip, this collection is going to be well worth your time.
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