A stunningly original debut collection about lives across history marked by violence and longing .
A brother and sister turn outlaw in a wild and brutal landscape. The daughter of a diplomat disappears and resurfaces across the world as a deadly woman of many names.Read more...
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A stunningly original debut collection about lives across history marked by violence and longing.
A brother and sister turn outlaw in a wild and brutal landscape. The daughter of a diplomat disappears and resurfaces across the world as a deadly woman of many names. A young Philadelphia boy struggles with the contradictions of privilege, violence, and the sway of an incarcerated father. A monk in sixteenth century England suffers the dissolution of his monastery and the loss of all that he held sacred.
The characters in The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, Benz's wildly imaginative debut, are as varied as any in recent literature, but they share a thirst for adventure which sends them rushing full-tilt toward the moral crossroads, becoming victims and perpetrators along the way. Riveting, visceral, and heartbreaking, Benz's stories of identity, abandonment, and fierce love come together in a daring, arresting vision.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-10-17
- Reviewer: Staff
Evoking eras from the medieval to the postapocalyptic and built around various forms including slave narratives, found documents, and gothic tales complete with sly scholarly notes, Benzs debut collection of 10 stories is impressive but uneven. The opening story, West of the Known, is a 2014 O. Henry Prize winner and one of books strongest. Vividly refashioning a Western outlaw tale with a female narrator and taut, inventive language, its chain of violation and retribution is emotionally compelling and historically vivid. Another high point is Accidental, in which a woman guilty of vehicular manslaughter sets out on a quest driven by family loss, distance, and fallibility. Set in the present and uncomplicated by the tricky strategies that mark much of the rest of the book, it is powerfully nuanced. In contrast, the labored medievalism of That We May All Be One Sheepfolde, or O Saeculum Corruptissimum, with its surfeit of phrasing such as So cumbrous was mine horror upon the gore that wast my fathers face, never moves beyond pastiche. At its best, the collection explores violence, identity, and otherness in sharply observed, fiercely eloquent prose. Benzs bold experiments with voice and genre sometimes fail to make an authentic emotional connection, but she nevertheless displays her daring and gift for language. (Jan.)