Amy Gerstler

  • Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

    Scholars have argued that childhood is a relatively recent invention, a concept that didn’t exist until the seventeenth century. If that’s the case, perhaps adulthood is equally suspect. Wouldn’t we be better off admitting that “grown-ups” are merely oversize, car-driving, money-juggling kids, instead of pretending to an ascendancy we rarely merit? The idea that we’re all just aging, idiosyncratic children snatching at happiness is central to Ms. Hempel Chronicles, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s gently, deeply affecting second novel.

    Bynum’s debut, Madeleine Is Sleeping (2004), also traversed

  • In a future land called Nation, late-stage capitalism and an unchecked faith in technology have wreaked planetary havoc: “Distressed survivors huddle illustratively or claw up cliffs or weep on overpasses dressed in neon, rainsoaked T-shirts screenprinted with the slogans of corporate sponsors: Product is Life. Life is good.” Earth has been pushed beyond what its “immune system” can bear. The environment befouled, people eat synthetic honey and drink chemically constituted milk. The Continuous Heritage Board produces propaganda for nonstop viewing on ubiquitous “filescreens,” and personal

  • Renaissance woman Miranda July is a quirky, prolific video, Web, and performance artist. In 2005, she snatched a fistful of awards for her first feature film, Me and You and Everyone We Know. (She won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance and the Camera d’Or at Cannes, to note just the biggies.) Now, with No One Belongs Here More than You, a collection of sixteen stories, July makes her literary maiden voyage.

    These sagas of modern folly are packed with angst, manic energy, dark wit, and odd fancies—a distinctive July cocktail. One story opens, “Before he died, my father taught me his finger