Eryn Loeb

  • Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever

    A subtle misanthropy pervades Justin Taylor’s debut story collection, Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever. Taylor’s heroes—mostly males ranging from twitchy kids to restless thirty-somethings—are reliably uncomfortable in their own skins, embracing risk in an attempt to salvage some sense of themselves. The nameless narrator of “Jewels Flashing in the Night of Time” works in a small-town sandwich shop and offers an unnerving soliloquy about deli meat: Ham is “pink as a boiled baby and is 11 percent water and comes wrapped in this plastic with a red criss-cross design on it and when you slice

  • Normal People Don’t Live like This

    An adult character in Normal People Don’t Live like This, Dylan Landis’s lean, beguiling novel in stories, is a synesthete. “It means the senses work in pairs,” she explains to Leah Levinson, the teenager at the center of the book. “It’s a gift.” Leah can appreciate this—for her, objects and words have their own dreamy weight—but her sensitivity is a product of adolescence, not neurology.

    Teenage girls make for compelling fictional subjects, and portraying them honestly requires a certain grit. In her best moments, Landis doesn’t flinch, lavishing attention on Leah’s obsessive-compulsiveness,

  • Not Becoming My Mother

    For years, Ruth Reichl took pleasure in relating what she called “Mim tales,” playful stories of her mother’s fumbles with and trespasses against proper motherhood— as when the dishes she prepared for her son’s engagement party gave guests food poisoning, or when she cobbled together a last-minute snack for her daughter’s Brownie troop by stirring assorted cupboard contents into moldy chocolate pudding salvaged from the fridge.

    Early in her slim, potent new memoir, Not Becoming My Mother, Reichl (editor in chief of Gourmet and author of three best-selling memoirs) describes her late mother,