James Bonner

Alice in Plunderland by Steve McCaffery

Alice in Plunderland by Steve McCaffery

Steve McCaffery’s new book, Alice in Plunderland, explores the inner depths of an addicts mind as Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) might experience it. Written to the same structure and tune of Carroll’s original 1865 story, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the reader is no longer left to ponder what Underland would be like through the eyes of a desperate junkie. And, as one might expect, following McCaffery’s version of Wonderland is as much of an undertaking and painstakingly difficult as any fiend’s attempt for an easy score when in dire need to use. The first and last chapters of Steve McCaffery’s Alice in Plunderland are the only two that a laymen—or anyone not chronically stoned—could follow without turning to the Joual Drug Slang Dictionary or A Short Glossary of Plunderland Terms for Grown-Ups.

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Impossible Lives of Basher Thomas by Robert Detman

Impossible Lives of Basher Thomas by Robert Detman

Robert Detman’s novel, Impossible Lives of Basher Thomas, is a thoughtfully formulated story that illustrates a unique display of the human condition. Detman’s strengths include a great aptitude to create and develop characters with depth enough to feel genuinely involved with, and receptive to, a lithe fluency of descriptive imagery. This is an incredibly complex story covering a range of topics from artistic expression, the philosophy of art, politics, ethics, and varying dynamics of psychoanalytic behaviorism.

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And Your Bird Can Sing by Robert Miltner

And Your Bird Can Sing by Robert Miltner

Robert Miltner’s And Your Bird Can Sing captured me as soon as I had read the last line of the first story, “We Can Work It Out.” These stories are all inspired by, and named after, Beatles songs. I imagine Miltner sitting with his pen in hand, leaning over a desk, and staring into the deckled, yellowed pages of an old leather notebook, The Beatles amplified over aged speakers throughout the room. A number of the stories end abruptly, as if Miltner allowed himself one more sentence and then simply lifted his pen as each song came to an end. Miltner crafts his stories with a seemingly simple yet arched complexity that develops from an attentive understanding of John, Paul and George’s unique storytelling, and the author’s caustic handling of social and political absurdity through satire has culminated in a brilliant collection.

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Sophrosyne by Marianne Apostolides

Sophrosyne by Marianne Apostolides

Marianne Apostolides's most recent novel, Sophrosyne, is a downward tumble into the mind’s rabbit hole. Apostolides examines human nature, the connections and distinctions between intellect and feeling that affect the people around us, as well as our presence in, and outside of, any particular moment. Sophrosyne is powerful, stimulating, expressive, and introspective. I found myself reading and rereading several passages—pages, even—as I coursed through the book. I was able to lose myself while reading out loud in a crowded space, as if speaking to her characters and Marianne Apostolides herself. Sophrosyne is a haunting tale caught somewhere between that of Albert Camus’s The Fall and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower—it is demanding of care and intention.

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