From the cover of The Witches by Stacy Schiff.
For a brief second, some fifty pages in to The Witches, Stacy Schiff’s history of the Salem witch trials, I almost started to wonder whether any of the accused were guilty. Like, of witchcraft. I spent the rest of the book waiting for Stoughton, Hathorne, Cotton Mather, and the other investigators to come to their senses and call the whole thing off. Of course I know better, but her retelling of the trials is so vivid, and resonates so deeply with current events, that the nightmare seems to unfold in real time, its causes obscure, its conclusion impossible to foresee, like a terrifying story you’ve never heard before. —Lorin Stein
“One cannot reason anymore with the President. One life for the life of thousands. Lies lies lies airplanes. Warlords profit false idols prophet.” Reading Kate Zambreno’s first novel, O Fallen Angel, is like getting a dose of electroshock therapy—a galvanizing current of electricity straight into the brain. Written in 2007, in the aftermath of September 11 and in the midst of the second Bush’s presidency, O Fallen Angel was published by Lidia Yuknavitch’s small press Chiasmus the following year; it was fittingly reissued last month, a few days before Trump’s inauguration. The novel is related through three characters’ streams of consciousness: the Valium-popping housewife Mommy, one of literature’s great monsters; her daughter, Maggie, a drug addict who pursues a physical and psychological drive toward death; and Malachi, a street prophet, who seems to foresee, among other events, burning towers. O Fallen Angel is blackly funny and brutal, a radical and clear-sighted antidote for banality and complacency. —Nicole Rudick Read More