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
It’s around page 850 of Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire when the action really gets going.
Plenty happens in the preceding pages, sure, but it is only toward the very end that the various narrative threads finally begin to twist and knot: It’s past 2:00 a.m. on the night of the New York City blackout of 1977. Detective Larry Pulaski, one of at least nine major characters who have carried the story so far, has followed a handful of dead-end leads surrounding a New Year’s Eve shooting to this moment — a desperate race to prevent something (no spoilers) that is part of “a scenario so screwy it wouldn’t pass muster at a movie house.” Continue reading