Review of Leni Zumas’s Farewell Navigator

My review “A Little Bone of Crazy, or This is Your Brain On Snowbroth: Leni Zumas’s Farewell Navigator” is at Fiction Writers Review. Here’s an excerpt:

Most of these stories are compact studies of paralysis, in the tradition of Beckett and Ionesco. These ciphers don’t so much act or react, but are usually quietly or loudly inert. Insignificance, ennui, insensitivity, and impotence all figure largely here. Sherwood Anderson could have been describing Zumas’s characters as they, too, are “forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts.” In “Farewell Navigator,” one character envies a group of blind schoolchildren having teachers “to pull them. Nobody expects them to know where to go.” And in“Leopard Arms”—a story told from the perspective of a gargoyle—a father fears…

of doing nothing they’ll remember him for. Not a single footprint—film, book, record, madcap stunt—to prove he was here. Am I actually here? he sometimes mutters into his hand. Significant fears to face, I would say: but these two do a bang-up job of not. Their evasion strategy is deftly honed.

Such characters are unmoored in an unforgiving world, bereft of hope for renewal or redemption.

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