My new novel TOO SHATTERED FOR MENDING was selected as one of four crossover books by the New York Times Sunday Book Review this week (“crossovers” are books that can be enjoyed by both mature teens and adults).
Here’s the full review:
TOO SHATTERED FOR MENDING
By Peter Brown Hoffmeister
373 pp. Knopf. $17.99.
Little is called Little because he’s big — a sophomore in high school and already 6-foot-5. But his nickname in his gorgeous but meth-ravaged Idaho town is more than an easy joke. Hoffmeister is reminding us that this person we come to care about and fear for — who’s been abandoned by his drug-dealer grandfather, who has to hunt illegally if he wants to eat meat, who’s been exposed to every kind of toxic masculinity but still puts everyone else’s needs above his own — is just a boy. Early on, a deputy seeks Little’s help finding his grandfather. That request eventually becomes a threat, adding tension to a portrait of the heart and will that’s so tragic and beautiful it singes.
Little has an older brother, JT, a promising football player who is ruining his prospects with alcohol and violence — and may soon ruin Little’s with faulty advice. JT’s girlfriend, Rowan, on whom Little has a heartbreaking crush, is a ragged free spirit who can’t understand her own worth.
“Too Shattered for Mending” is as spare as a bird in a bare tree, but it’s cathartic, not depressing. Little’s struggle with dyslexia alone — he places a red transparency over schoolbooks to make the page clearer — is enough to launch a thousand of those tweets that say, “I’m not crying, you’re crying.” In the end, you realize that what Little needs, what we all need, is a red transparency to put over the world itself so that life and love aren’t so hard.”
I was asked for a few book recs in an email yesterday, and I realized that I should probably share my response since I love it so much when people tell me about books they’ve enjoyed. Here’s what I wrote:
“This year, I loved The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (National Book Award), Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (National Book Critic’s Circle Award for Poetry – although it reads more like essays), James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird (National Book Award), Kevin Barry’s short story collection Dark Lies The Island, and Welch’s The Death Of Jim Loney (which felt eerily close to my current mental state with a brain injury).
Bryn Greenwood’s All The Ugly And Wonderful Things was DISTURBING but she wrote it beautifully.
Also, I’ve read ten of the Best American Short Stories collections.
Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow was hard but good as well.
In the last few years…I loved all three Patrick deWitt novels + Lean On Pete & The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin.”
Recently, I’ve been reading as many of the Best American Short Stories anthologies as I can. With 20 stories by 20 different authors in each addition – edited by a different guest editor each year – they’re all excellent. I’m entertained while also learning from the various styles and techniques of these award winning authors.
I’m not reading the collections in any particular order, just reading whatever anthology I find next at my used bookstore or library. That’s how I came across the 1998 edition, guest-edited by Garrison Keiller. It includes incredible stories by Annie Proulx, Carol Anshaw, Akhil Sharma, and others, but it’s the authors’ bio sections that really caught my eye in this edition, because a short story writer named Poe Ballantine wrote the best author bio I’ve ever read.
Since it’s not available online, I’m going to retype his bio for you right here:
“I am forty-two. College dropout. Live in a motel room. I generally move every year, but I am tired of moving and I like this room so I think I will stay another year. I have had lots of odd jobs, mostly cooking. I worked at the radio antenna factory just across the tracks for a while, then sold a couple of stories, so I quit March 5, and if I live on $400 a month and this wisdom tooth coming in doesn’t knock the rest of my teeth sideways, I will be able to write until August.”