[REVIEW] Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted, and Afraid to Die by Amy Fusselman

savage

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

144 pages, $21.00

 

Review by Lacey Rowland

 

When I was a child, I used to play with my friend in a pasture near our developing neighborhood. We lived in a part of town outside the city limits in rural, southern Idaho. The areas we played in were often under construction, but frequently abandoned due to funding. These places, the half-finished houses, the construction areas that harbored nails and other potentially dangerous items, were our summertime playgrounds. They were the places where we learned what trespassing was, and how to maneuver around it. In the pastures, we would bring along stepladders and try to summit horses that were not bred for riding, or had not yet been broken. Whether our parents were aware of our adventures, I’ve never been brave enough to ask, but there is something in my childhood, this space I once lived in that doesn’t exist in the same way for children today.

In her book, Savage Park: A Meditation On Play, Space, And Risk For Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted, And Afraid To Die, Amy Fusselman explores the space and world of play. Fusselman invites us to embrace our inner-child, to overcome our fears of death and purpose, while also showing us that, despite living in a world that seems to have everything figured out, there is still so much left for us to uncover. With her whimsical prose, Fusselman takes us with her on the high-wire with famed artist Phillip Pettit, and into the parks of Tokyo, where children romp through “adventure parks,” areas where open fires and sharp tools are at their disposal. Continue reading

[REVIEW] Wonderland, by Stacey D’Erasmo

Wonderland

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

242 pages, $22.00

 

Review by Carley Moore

 

I didn’t know it, but I’d been waiting for Stacey D’Erasmo’s fourth novel, Wonderland.  I’ve been working on a novel for the last year about a young woman who tries to change her life by running away with a female-led indie music band in 1990, and so I’ve steeped myself in rock n’ roll memoirs and journalistic accounts of bands on tour.  Many of the books were male affairs, with the exception of two of my favorites—Pamela DeBarres’s groundbreaking and sexually frank groupie memoir I’m With the Band and Sheila Weller’s well-researched and historically-minded Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carley Simon and the Journey of a Generation.  These books gave me a unique glimpse into what it was like to be a woman in a male-dominated field, and the complex interplay of power, artistry, and sexuality that is the heart of playing in a band and performing for large audiences of adoring fans.

Still, D’Erasmo’s protagonist, Anna Brundage is a revelation.  She’s a female artist who is sexual, in and out of love, and determined to stage a comeback though she has no clear idea how to make that happen.  Anna’s fortunes and her fame are not particularly tied to those of the men around her, and yet she works with men, fucks and loves them, and calls a couple of them mentors and muses (such as her father, who is a famous conceptual artist, and Ezra and Billy Q., older, more successful musicians who have helped her career).  I love Anna because she’s smart, sexy, and really and truly on her own.  She’s not looking for any saviors. Continue reading