A white woman, softly sobbing, was hoisted into the back of an ambulance. On direction from the state troopers, Harvell stood idly by. For the second time since he’d arrived, the woman said the girl’s parents were Claudine and Cordezar Brown of Greenwood, Indiana. By “the girl,” the white woman meant the body lying in the ditch, covered by a sheet. Harvell looked at the bus tracks; the skid marks a few yards away, left by the fugitive car; a pair of yellow shoes about a foot apart on the side of the road.
Politics and history crackle through the plotlines of our recommended books this month, as we travel the world experiencing struggle and mourning in a many-layered collage of contexts. Here are four varied works of “healing imagination,” as books both simple and unconventional examine trauma unflinching and then look to what happens next.
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin, Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan, Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett
Book by ANN HOOD, ELIZABETH STROUT, PETER FARRELLY, BRUCE DESILVA, MARIE MYUNG-OK LEE, ROBERT LEUCI, DAWN RAFFEL, LUANNE RICE, THOMAS COBB, JOHN SEARLES, TAYLOR M. POLITES, PABLO RODRIGUEZ, AMITY GAIGE, LASHONDA KATRICE BARNETT, HESTER KAPLAN Reviewed by SUSAN TACENT
Noir is not my regular genre. But I have read my fair share of Raymond Chandler, and I’ve seen The Big Sleep more than once. I’m from Brooklyn originally—Noir Central—and I’ve lived in Rhode Island for over 20 years. So I jumped at the opportunity to review Providence Noir, Brooklyn-based Akashic Books’s latest entry in its 11-year-old Noir series, atmospheric story collections set in cities all over the world.
Part of the fun of reading the series is imagining familiar landmarks in a sinister light. The appropriately mysterious cover photo of Providence Noir looks out on a deserted Dorrance Street, in the city’s old center, from an alley behind the Union Trust Company at night. The sidewalk looks wet where the streetlight falls. Might be rain, might be blood. We also see Coffee Exchange, Central High, Trinity Rep. Benefit Street, Adler’s Hardware, India Point Park. These are the places where we Providence folk overcaffeinate, or teach, or take our kids to watch A Christmas Carol. Places where we try to find parking for jury duty, pick up paint to brighten the kitchen, buy freshly made pasta, enjoy one more late summer picnic. Turned by the writers ofProvidence Noir into sites of intrigue, mayhem, and death, they make the little reptilian hairs on the back our necks rise, as if suddenly we find ourselves inside the fiction on the page.