Henry Holt and Co.
320 pages, $25.00
Review by Denton Loving
When June Melby’s family decided to buy the Tom Thumb Miniature Golf course in Waupaca, Wisconsin, nobody understood the myriad ways such a game would affect and influence their family. Melby’s memoir, My Family and Other Hazards, details their relationship with the game of mini-golf, both as a business and as one of the constants in their lives. But Melby’s narrative isn’t merely childhood reminiscence, and although Melby reports about the interesting history of mini-golf, it’s so much more than an historical account.
Melby’s cleverness should be noted in many ways, most obviously with the book’s framework—eighteen chapters, one for every hole in the course. But the beginning of the course isn’t exactly the beginning of the story. The force behind this recounting of Tom Thumb’s history begins with a moment of crisis when Melby’s parents plan to sell the course. Continue reading
~by Kaya Genç
In The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., her exquisitely composed debut novel, Adelle Waldman gives us Nathaniel (Nate) Piven, a young novelist obsessed with imagining the feelings and ideas of female characters around him. Like Nate, Waldman worked as an essayist for numerous print and web publications. But despite the resemblance between them Waldman’s literary creation is a very dislikable creature: a selfish man lacking the faculty of empathy that is crucial for the novelist he is struggling to become.
On the face of it Nate is a likeable figure. He is successful, well-groomed and attractive. His prospects as a writer are excellent. He has a six-figure book deal and a growing reputation among Brooklyn’s literati. The story sets off months before the publication of his debut novel and quickly reveals how Nate’s gentlemanly façade is a mere ploy that conceals his womanising ambitions. Continue reading