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Annabel Smith

The greatest hurts you can endure or inflict on another are often in connection with siblings. The expectation of intimacy and potential for damage is obviously amplified when dealing with twins. As the father of two-year-old twin boys, I read this book with some trepidation.

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The Grasshopper Shoe by Carolyn Leach-Paholski & A New Map of the Universe by Annabel Smith

December 2005–January 2006, no. 277

Early in Carolyn Leach-Paholski’s The Grasshopper Shoe, a maverick artisan named Wei argues that ‘all form strives to the enclosed and therefore piques our curiosity. What lies open or does not have a hidden side could be counted as formless. All that remains unjoined, the line which does not seek the satisfaction of unity in the circle, all this to aesthetics is dead.’ These words could be interpreted as the novel’s declaration of formal intent. Indeed, both of these début novels are concerned with beauty and perfection, in the sense that they seek to convey emotional and philosophical intensity through rich poetic language. The use of ornate metaphors and imagery in prose has its risks. It requires skill and a good deal of restraint to allow the narrative enough air to breathe so that the novel’s momentum is not stifled.

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