Category Archives: Book Review

Review by Denise B. Dailey of Collateral Damage: 48 Stories by Nancy Ludmerer

Black and white photo of glasses on open book

Collateral Damage: 48 Stories, the title of Nancy Ludmerer’s debut collection of captivating short stories, invites threat and suspense, but her sterling craft and literary sensibilities upend all expectations. The collateral part is clear, if often subtle; the damage comes from uncommon revelations, each convincing, each a wonderment. I held my breath (and laughed) for the celebrant in the propulsive and detailed single-sentence flash fiction, Bar Mitzvah, when he choked on his piece of celery “stuffed with scallion cream cheese”; delighted in the guileless turnaround in the page-long Tiffy; and admired the imaginative conceit in … Continue reading Review by Denise B. Dailey of Collateral Damage: 48 Stories by Nancy Ludmerer

Dawg Towne: A Review of Alice Kaltman’s Novel by Nancy Ludmerer

Cover of the book Dawg Towne

There are silhouettes of dogs cavorting on the cover, barking and begging, and a misspelled title. Was it so foolish to assume that the first-person narrator at the start of Alice Kaltman’s beguiling new novel Dawg Towne (word west press, 2021) is a canine? Given that some of my favorite stories have dog narrators—from Chekhov’s Kashtanka to Kafka’s Investigations of a Dog—and that I myself have written dog-narrated fiction (Head of A Dog in The Hong Kong Review), was that so wrong-headed? Dawg Towne begins: “You wouldn’t know me now, if you knew me then,” … Continue reading Dawg Towne: A Review of Alice Kaltman’s Novel by Nancy Ludmerer

An Interview with author Sharon Harrigan


I met Sharon one Saturday morning in late September at Writer House in Charlottesville, Virginia after dropping a writer off at the train station who had been at Porches writing retreat. We talked about Playing With Dynamite, a memoir about her father who died in a mysterious and bizarre accident when she was seven. Sharon: It’s cool to be talking to you because I was at Porches when I made the final edits on the book. It was my last opportunity to make any changes so it felt like it was high stakes and I … Continue reading An Interview with author Sharon Harrigan

The Consternations of Traveling South with Paul Theroux


A few years back I took a trip to Texas with Bill Clinton. It was not a fun trip. Clinton is pathologically self-referential and by the time he’d repeated the phrase, “Let me tell you one more clever thing I said when I did something bad,” for the eleventy-twelfth time, I was ready to leave him by the side of the road in Alabama. I sputtered at the car CD player (which is where books-on-tape lived before they became books-on-Audible…did I mention Clinton was on the CD and not in the car?), “I don’t care … Continue reading The Consternations of Traveling South with Paul Theroux

Cleaning Up


HELP, I’m roiled in moil, chaos on every side of me. My life flashes before my eyes, although the only thing I’m drowning in is the sorting of minute particulars. It’s a cautionary tale. Some time ago (has it been weeks?) I bought a copy of a benign looking little book called the life-changing magic of tidying up. It  had occurred to me, on numerous occasions that this is something I ought to be doing, tidying up, I mean, and so this looked like the answer to if not my prayers, probably somebody’s. Marie Kondo, … Continue reading Cleaning Up



  December is always a good time to add to my already long list of books to read. There are awards nominations, various reviewers’ choices for best books of the year, random recommendations for books people are giving or would like to receive as presents. One of the books that appeared frequently as I scanned these sources was Citizen by Claudia Rankine. I was already asking for Marilynne Robinison’s Lila and Richard Ford’s Let Me Be Frank With You for Christmas, so I bought Citizen for myself. I’m glad I did—sort of. Citizen was among … Continue reading Interactions

Silver Apples of the Moon by Sarah Sargent


We’ve all done it. Found ourselves reading a successful, but dreadfully written book and exclaimed “I can do better!” Well, this was the genesis of Silver Apples of the Moon, the novel  co-authored by me and my sister, Felicity Blundon. In our case, the dreadful book was The Bridges of Madison County. Bad as that book was, it did touch on a couple of important themes. One was the fact that the protagonists were mature, as opposed to twenty-somethings—targeting it to an older demographic was a key ingredient for success given the aging Baby Boomer … Continue reading Silver Apples of the Moon by Sarah Sargent