The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

“Targets,” an essay by Kay Smith-Blum

Who breaks their arm planting bulbs? Well, technically, I was retrieving bulbs, from a box on the other side of the low-rise-industrial-wire fence they put up around small urban gardens at street level to keep out the dogs that don’t keep out the dogs. Why build a fence just high enough for me to trip over? This question begets an annoying answer. The kind of answer that targets you, relentless as the sunrise. Most wouldn’t trip over it. The fact that I did is a visceral confirmation of aging, a steady and sure march to death, bringing with it the accidents of youth.

The virus is also on the march and the Governor has closed my pool eliminating the aquatic option to recovering my range of motion. So, here I am—albeit four staggeringly painful and miraculous-in-the-fact-my-bone-healed-at-my-age months later—in physical therapy, a risk of a different kind. 

Kim, my physical therapist, announced on Tuesday I should have worn a mask. They had sent an email. One I deleted before reading as I do most irritatingly-perky missives that fill up my inbox with random products, services or advice on healthy choices I thought I wanted to make. In the wake of the virus, I’ve decided I’m healthy enough for someone who may die soon and has long planned on dying at year seventy-five. Which is the perfect age to do so, and I could tell you why but I won’t digress.

On Thursday, I arrive orange bandana-bound. I insert my disinfected credit card for the co-pay. I Purell my hands and look right. A talkative young man, without a mask, seated on the banquette adjoining the front counter, his body twisted toward the receptionist, is chattering non-stop. His way-too-low pant waist is way-too-revealing. He twists again, his white fleshy cheeks pressing against the rust vinyl cushion in cringe worthy fashion. This can’t be the hygienic standard to which they aim.

The machine buzzes. I extract my card and whisper. “He needs to pull up his pants.”   Continue reading

“The Gift,” a poem by Seth Jani

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Book Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Book Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Reviewed by E. Kirshe

 

The Cousins is the newest YA mystery novel from bestselling author Karen M. Mcmanus (One of Us is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, One of us is Next). This standalone volume is full of twists and turns to pull readers through to the very end.

Teenage cousins Aubrey, Milly, and Jonah Story are mysteriously invited by the grandmother who disowned their parents to her New England island for the summer. They’ve never met her or heard from her, and no one knows why she suddenly disinherited and cut ties with her children. 

Figuring out why this happened, while navigating their own complex relationships with their parents and each other makes family the driving force behind the plot. As the moody cover says “family first, always”. 

The over-the-top plot twists make for a fun read while the characters themselves stay pretty grounded. The cousins feel believable and the history of the Story family fits right in with the old-school mystery full of high society and intrigue vibe. The book is told through first-person narration from each cousin (and occasional flashbacks from Milly’s mother to before the disowning) and the perspective shifts keep the story moving and engaging.

The parent-child relationships being dealt with through calls and texts while the cousins are on the island lends a good dose of reality and makes for fully drawn characters. The Nantucket-like setting and quick-moving plot made this book feel like a perfect summer read, though young mystery and other YA fans are sure to enjoy it any time of the year. 

 

The Cousins will be available December 1, 2020, from Delacorte Press

The Furious Gazelle received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Book Lovers

Hello dear readers! It may not feel much like it but the holidays are almost upon us. This year, it’s important to #shoplocal and support independent bookstores like Strand and McNally Jackson. They’ve lost most of their revenue to Amazon with closures due to COVID and reduced foot traffic causing them to lose business.

As book lovers, we believe the best present to give to anyone is a book. There’s something for everyone, even non-readers (cookbooks, coloring books, puzzle books). Or, if you’re a non-reader yourself looking for something to get your reader friend, you’ve come to the right place.

As we do every year, we put together a handy guide of our favorite new releases and under-appreciated books from years past. Our goal in making this list was to avoid best sellers and gather some hidden gems that your gift recipient is almost sure not to already have. We tried to hit a wide range so that there’s something for everyone.

We’ll be adding to this list over the next week so check back! If you have any specific types of books you’re looking for or people you’re looking to shop for that you don’t see represented in this list, let us know in the comments! Also, check out our 2017 gift list, 2018 list, and 2019 list for even more ideas.

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“Pabst Blue Ribbon with Cat on Lap and November Rain” by James Croal Jackson

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Book Review: TITAN by François Vigneault

François Vigneault TITAN coverFrançois Vigneault’s TITAN is a slim volume, a quick but impactful read. Far in the future, humans have genetically engineered a race of super-strong, super-big people called Titans. When MNGR João da Silva arrives on the planet Titan, things are already tenuous. The relationship between Titans and “Terrans,” what they call humans from Earth, is hostile – one Titan snaps that she’d “rather scrub dreg out the line with my tongue” than work directly with a Terran. The planet is a powder keg, about to explode. That’s when Phoebe, a fiery red-haired Titan, arrives, pulling João deeper into a conflict he can’t escape.

Titan’s art is simple but effective. It’s monochromatic, completely done in white, pink, grey and black. There’s minimal line work, but every line is put to good use- the wrinkles lining MNGR da Silva’s face, the cartoonish bubbles indicating tipsiness when the MNGR and Phoebe share a bottle of alcohol. The art balances well between sci-fi realism and classic, simple comic book art. Continue reading

Poetry by Simon Perchik

You limp the way a stream

will soothe a single rock

and along the bottom

remembers this path

as darkness and dry leaves

though you don’t look down

–you hear it’s raining :the hush

not right now but at night

these cinders float to the surface

keep one foot swollen, the other

has so little and for a long time now

the listening in secret.

Continue reading

“Motherhood” by Suzanne Christenson

I watched Rosemary’s Baby again last night, and I have to say, I don’t see what the big deal is.

I mean, the premise is bad. Sure. If my husband allowed the literal devil to rape me just so he could do something beyond TV ads, I’d be pissed. I’m not trying to sound anti-feminist here. Mia Farrow should have spooned him drugged-up pudding until he choked on it and died. 

The whole spawn of Satan thing, though. There are worse things. 

Here’s the way I see it.  Continue reading

Poetry by Holly Day

The Next Day

 

The alarm went off and we found that the world

hadn’t ended, that all the ramblings of the church elders

weren’t true. My husband sighed and rolled out of bed

found there were only dirty clothes left for him to wear

sighed again, dressed, went to work. 

 

I could hear birds chirping in the yard

a squirrel on the roof, cars

passing on the road out front. 

I held onto my dreams of apocalypse

for a few moments longer, savoring visions

of the angels, the devastation

that could still be waiting just outside the door. 

 

Butterfly Cage

 

when I was pregnant, all of my dreams

were about snakes. as much as I tried

to dream only about baby kittens, baby puppies

human babies, my nights would be filled

with twisting pythons gathered in knots

inside me, their slick skin undulating

in the dark, pushing and bumping as if

trying to find a way out.

 

friends without children would ask me 

what it was like to be pregnant and I’d

have to lie. I was so worried that

imagining the baby inside me was a coiled serpent

in my stomach

meant that I was already a bad mother

meant something was wrong with my baby.

 

“It’s like being a butterfly house, ” I’d say instead.

“I’m all full of fluttering butterflies.” I’d put his or her hand

on my straining stomach as I spoke, whispering

“Can you feel them move? Can you feel it?

 

Isn’t it wonderful?”

 

The Light

 

We wait for the bombs to feel us out

pass the potatoes, say grace over the odd angels

that have watched over us for years

through the stained-glass windows of old churches

through the eyes of Orthodox iconography. This is a moment of peace

that will never come again.

 

Through the windows, the strength of distant concussions

fold trees in half, take grain silos and snap power lines. 

We turn up the gas, clear the dinner table

I put a knife in your hand, just in case.

 

The sky grows as dark as if seen through closed eyes

windows shake and fly apart. Hands

over their eyes, I stretch out next to the children

tell them it’s just the sound of His voice, there’s nothing 

to be afraid of,  it’ll all work out in the end. 

 

Dirty American Poem #3

 

the soldiers didn’t seem to care

that the hotel we were staying in

was haunted. they didn’t seem even a little interested

when we told them chairs were moving all by themselves

that we could hear voices whispering in the bathroom pipes

that the clocks had all stopped exactly at midnight.

 

the people in the streets outside

didn’t seem to care either, seemed more concerned with

pushing back against the soldiers, standing ground

in front of their own crumbling, possibly haunted hovels

seemed more annoyed than anything when we

said we needed to find another place to stay. 

 


Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).

Book Review: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

Review by Tess Tabak

Peng Shepherd’s Book of M is a tour de force, a grim-yet-hopeful speculative fiction novel with many parallels for the current coronavirus pandemic. The characters in the book grapple with their own mysterious pandemic: a wave of people throughout the globe suddenly begin losing their shadows, and no one understands why. With the loss of a shadow inevitably comes total memory loss.

 

The book covers vast material in its 485 pages – the book takes place over the course of about two years – but it centers on a relatively small cast of characters. The central figures include a couple, Max and Ory, who have been living in hiding together at a resort since the start of the pandemic. There is also an amnesiac, who suffered complete retrograde amnesia shortly before the pandemic struck, and who may be key to finding a cure.

 

More than just losing their memory, something far stranger happens to the victims of the Forgetting. They become imbued with magical powers. If they forget something, whatever they imagine in its place becomes reality. A wife who forgets her husband may cause him to disappear, for example. Shepherd deliberately keeps the scope of the supernatural powers vague throughout the course of the book. While there is some amount of internal logic, the “rules” of the magic is not the focus here. Rather we’re intimately following the aftermath for our characters, the pain and emotional anguish of watching their loved ones forget who they are, or knowing that you’re being stripped of everything that makes you who you are. Continue reading

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