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Briefly Listed Book Reviews | The New Yorker

Poor Deerby Claire Oshetsky (Ecco). This novel follows a sixteen-year-old girl named Margaret as she attempts to come to terms with the death of her childhood best friend, for which she was partially responsible. In time, Margaret’s role in the tragedy was relegated to rumours; when she confessed, her mother told her, «Never repeat that terrible lie again.» Now a teenager, Margaret attempts to document the incident honestly, accompanied by Poor Deer, the physical embodiment of her guilt, who intervenes whenever Margaret begins to blur the truth. The author depicts the inner life of four-year-old Margaret with sensitive complexity and displays a sharp child’s logic that defies the adult view of her as slow and lifeless. In the present, the novel considers whether its narrator’s tendency to reimagine the past could be reworked to imagine her future.

Nonfictionby Julie Myerson (Tin House). The narrator of this rawly edgy and plaintive novel, an unnamed fiction writer, addresses much of the book to her drug-addicted and occasionally violent teenage daughter. Interwoven in her reflections on her daughter’s struggles are the writer’s cascading memories of her own fractured childhood and a rekindled romance with a married ex-lover when her daughter was young. Set in and around subdued London, the novel is a sustained meditation on the trials of family, marriage and creativity. Writing is an act of «crazy self-belief,» says the narrator. «The moment you listen to the opinions of others.» . . you risk breaking the spell, and if you’re not careful, common sense will creep in.’

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