THE IRAQI CHRIST
This won some awards and I hadn't read any Iraqi fiction, so I ordered it when I was in Springfield this summer staying with Ryan and Jerilyn and Elia. One day when me and Elia were playing in the front yard, she rang the doorbell and ran away and I followed her, and Ryan opened the door, got the mail, and brought me a package. I opened it, showed this book to Elia, and she claimed to have read it at Sunday school. I told her she hadn't, but she insisted until she noticed the beetle on the cover and then we played a game on the trampoline about an island covered in bugs.
Three months later, I read these stories in bed when I was very sleepy. I had to reread several of them because the next night I couldn't remember whether I'd finished them or not, and most of them I still don't remember. By far my favorite story was the last one, "A Thousand and One Knives", about a group of people with the mysterious and meaningless ability to make knives disappear by staring at them. Among thirteen other pretty bleak stories, it's the most hopeful, and I would gladly have read a whole novel about these characters, but it's also very satisfying the way it is.
PAULINA & FRAN
I've read Rachel's short stories and poems and liked and loved them, but this might be my favorite thing by her. While I was reading it I felt young and dumb and smart and cool and confident. It's a story about friendship and sex and hair and I related to it more than I sometimes wanted to. It's funny and sad and I'll buy a physical copy next time I'm in Amerika.