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We’re told at the beginning that “the story I’m going to tell is not of this earth … the surface of this story is a mere haunting, a shadow upon the surface of a deeper shadow. And now you must crawl in, too.”

This sort of mental unmooring is what Peter Grandbois does. You’re never quite sure where you stand when reading him, and this is what drew me to his work in the first place.

His story cycle “School Bus” is really one of the great pieces of American writing in the twenty first century. Its blatant unreality somehow perfectly conveys what every onetime school kid knows to be true. So when I heard about Half-Burnt, I jumped at the opportunity to read it.

I thought, because of the priests and Native Americans, that it was going to be just like Brian Moore’s Black Robe. But then I remembered sitting in the DK Diner reading “School Bus” and believed that this book won’t be anything like Black Robe. And it’s not.

Half-Burnt is all about words, names, and stories as well as how things shape, change, and create reality.

If you’re looking for the next Dances with Wolves, keep on moving. But if you’re looking for a thoughtful piece of armchair avant-garde, crack open Half-Burnt.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 278 pages
Publisher Spuyten Duyvil
Publish Date 2019-05-01
ISBN 9781949966039
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue May 2019
Category Modern Literature


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