Author Archives: John Flynn-York

A Field Guide to the North American Family by Garth Risk Hallberg

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Garth Risk Hallberg’s A Field Guide to the North American Family is a novella about two neighboring Long Island families, the Hungates and the Harrisons, and the ways their paths intersect and diverge. But it’s also a study in the juxtaposition of photographs and words, a riff on nature guides and cultural anthropology, and, fundamentally, a book that brings the reader’s imagination to the front. We are charged with the responsibility of creating meaning from this work. How we do that is up to us. Continue reading

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The Post-Apocalypse Gets Weird: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

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“Mord destroyed and reimagined our broken city for reasons known only to him, yet he also replenished it in his thoughtless way.” So thinks Rachel, the protagonist of Borne, as she climbs the side of Mord, a giant bear, braving his “ropy, dirt-bathed fur, foul with carrion and chemicals” in search of food or biotech treasure that’s stuck to him. Those are the thoughtless replenishments he provides. Instead, she finds a fist-sized organism that resembles a sea anemone. She takes it back to the crumbling apartment building where she lives, deciding on the way home that it’s a he and its name is Borne. Her partner and lover, Wick, is unhappy about Borne’s presence—an outcast biotech scientist, Wick recognizes a threat when he sees one—but he grudgingly allows what he’s powerless to stop. Borne already has a hold on Rachel’s heart. Continue reading

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