Book review: All the Good Things — by Clare Fisher

(Europa Editions)
It never hurts to reflect on the good things, and in this novel, Bethany, whose heartbreaking admission forms the crux of this book, is doing just that. As a result of her actions, she is incarcerated and she is instructed to write a list of the good things as a way of possibly discovering the good with herself, and perhaps finding redemption. Each chapter’s title is the “good thing:” 1. Smelling A Baby’s Head Right Into Your Heart or 14. How Cats Can Find Sun To Lie In, Even On A Cloudy Day. She has access to and reads all of the case files pertaining to her years in foster care which reveal how she was initially found by social workers. Her recollections are lively and warm, even in a life marred by trauma, but her experiences are marked by judgement, as though one action is enough for her to be known and found less than. These stories reveal Bethany, flawed as she is, with heart and humor and pathos. Through it all, Bethany’s voice is unique and irrepressible; she is still able to hope, even through the hard times she walked. This is book is  lively and warm, and, in the end, affirming.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
More Remarkable Small Press Books
The Collected Schizophrenias (Graywolf), by Esmé Weijun Wang
The Atlas of Reds and Blues (Counterpoint), by Devi S. Laskar
River of Fire (New Directions), by Qurratulain Hyder
The Silk Road (Graywolf), by Kathryn Davis
The Word for Woman Is Wilderness (Two Dollar Radio), by Abi Andrews
Meander Spiral Explode (Catapult), by Jane Alison
Dark Constellations (Soho Press), by Pola Oloixarac; translated by Roy Kesey
How To Do Nothing (Melville House), by Jenny Odell
Sugar Land (Red Hen Press), by Tammy Lynne Stoner

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