Category

Currently showing posts tagged Staggerwing

  • This Book Will Change Your Life - North and Central by the Bob Hartley.

    Travel. Read. Rinse. Repeat. We have been travel and we have been read and we have been truly excited for North and Central by the Bob Hartley because Tortoise Books has brought us a lot of pleasure going back to The Last Good Halloween by the Giano Cromley and all through Staggerwing by the Alice Kaltman. But it wasn't just that. We rarely read anything from the crime genre. No judgment mind you, just not our jam, and yet we do quite love Beautiful Piece by the Joseph G. Peterson, and when we heard that North and Central seemed to be playing with a similar vibe - Chicago born author riffs on Chicago. blue collar protagonists, a femme fatale, required, a bar, bonus - our interest was only heightened. What we can say, is that we loved it like we loved Beautiful Piece, the texture of characters, the mood, the richness of the storytelling, and to obnoxiously borrow from our riff on Beautiful piece, "the story both soars and grinds towards what will clearly be an ending that can't be good for anyone involved." Which is what we want from our crime novels, right? Of course it is. But still, even with the Tortoise and Beautiful Piece love all afloat, that may not even be what lingers with us the most. What North and Central has created is a sociological study. Yes there's crime, and love, dread, all of those rich characters, but more than anything it is Chicago at a certain time and place. The 1970's, John Wayne Gacy, Disco, and all the layers that come with that. You believe that Hartley knows that world. Not to mention the world of dive bars and those who inhabit them, including the crooked cops, who he is also seems to know so well. And by the end you know it too, even if you also know that it can't end all that well, because crime novels never do. Not exactly anyway.

  • This Book Will Change Your Life - Staggerwing by the Alice Kaltman.

    We were reading this piece in the Chicago Tribune about diversity in movies and they were stressing that one element of diversity that is so often ignored is the need for more roles that reflect the lives of the aging. The article also stressed that the lack of conversation about age seemed especially ironic now given the range of excellent performances by older actors and actresses this year. This got us thinking about the books we read. How so many of them are small press and indie. That these writers are predominantly young. At least rarely even as old as we are. And so, while they are quite awesome, of course, there is a lack of diversity in terms of their age, and subsequently, the characters they depict are rarely dealing with what the aged, or even semi-aged deal with - illness, their own and those around them, dead spouses, affairs and the loss of dreams that never were and now never will be. Until Staggerwing by the Alice Kaltman that is. Here are these very characters, and these very themes populate this very captivating debut story collection from this very New York writer. Which isn't to say young parents or newlyweds don't appear, but it is to say that the young characters are the exception. That it is a book about age, or more accurately aging, and maybe it's because we are getting old, and we have aches and pains and have been married so long. Or maybe it's because there is also art and surfing and New York City and travel. But the book rang true to us. Now it is also true that the character's don't necessarily resolve everything by stories end. For example, the artist seeking a break may not actually get it. The married engineer thinking that maybe he has fallen in love with a much younger woman, may or may be accurately reading the situation. And the widow carting her dead husband's ashes around with her may not figure out how to live without him, but maybe she will. Regardless, they have all lived through something that they are able to acknowledge and they are resolved to do something, even if it's nothing, but continuing to live. We could also say that these stories feel like real life, and authentic, and if that's not to cheesy, we will. We will also say that Staggerwing is as sure to change your life as it has ours. And we will add, please do be on the lookout for Alice Kaltman's upcoming episode of This Podcast Will Change Your Life, because it will most definitely do that, and it is coming soon.