A review of
by Stacey Levine
In her introduction to the latest edition of the collected Jane Bowles, Joy Williams argues that reading Bowles taught her nothing about writing. With all due respect, Im not sure that I agree with Williams, whose work I adore and which often bears the same reckless beauty and sentence-by-sentence surprise that I find in Bowles. In any case, someone who, its safe to say, learned plenty from Bowles is the Seattle-based author Stacey Levine. Im not the first to suggest this; Levines current editor, novelist Matthew Stadler, astutely compared Levine to Bowles in a review of Levines first novel, Dra.
All three of these writersId argue that Levine picked up a few lessons from Williams as wellare galvanized by misunderstanding. Limited knowledge of the world can lead, and often does, to a greater self-awareness. Sentences accordingly swarm with nonsequiturs, and plots tumble on the slippery meanings of same. Causality and conventional sequence are often comically snubbed. Strangeness celebrated.
Levines latest novel, Frances Johnson, takes place in a town called Munson. Munson feels a bit like Guy Maddins Tölzbad or Lars von Triers Dogville, fictional burgs where mores are arbitrary and oppressive, denizens delirious with indecision.
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