Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where's Writer's Block When You Need It?

If our review of Exiles is un-enthusiastic, we’re still pretty certain, based on this review, that Hansen’s novel is better than the latest by Robert Olen Butler, a collection of stories that consists entirely of the thoughts that characters (primarily historical figures) have during sex. Butler likes writing gimmicky stories, and sometimes they work—“Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot,” like the other stories of Tabloid Dreams, was inspired by a goofy headline, and is both a very funny and moving story. But this gimmick is just sad and shameless, and reinforces the importance of works like Hansen’s, which while falling short of expectations, still attempts to clear a path for thoughtful, faithful literary fiction.

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