Peter has reviewed books for Three Percent, Necessary Fiction, Busted Halo, and The Compulsive Reader. If you have a book you’d like reviewed, please contact Peter.

Fake Fruit Factory by Patrick Wensink. “One reads this book to enjoy the antics of the characters, whose ‘quirks’ tend to humanize them when they break down and reveal the genuine suffering underneath. At first it’s funny. Then it’s sad. Then it’s funny again. But throughout, the novel feels, in an odd way, real.”

The Room by Jonas Karlsson. “If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.” To Björn, the office worker who narrates Jonas Karlsson’s novel The Room, the reality is simple: there’s a door near the bathroom that leads to a tidy little room with a desk. Inside this room, he feels a profound sense of peace. The problem is that Björn is the only one in the office who can see the room.”

Guys Like Me by Dominique Fabre. “We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying side that reflects, more than anything else, the emotional state of the storyteller, an unnamed narrator still reeling from his divorce many years ago.”

The Skin by Curzio Malaparte. “The book contains some of the most gruesome imagery in literature: the surgery hall in a veterinary clinic, where dogs are kept in cradles with their innards exposed; the boiled child/fish served on a platter; the vaguely man-shaped carpet of skin, bone, and hair that’s peeled from the street after a man is crushed by a tank. All of these images are meant to serve that overall thesis—that people nowadays would rather save their skin than their souls—and blunt force of their delivery guarantees we won’t ever unsee them.”

Thousand Times Broken by Henri Michaux. (Interview with translator Gillian Conoley in two parts) “In all of his work, you find dissatisfaction with his medium, his tools, with language as a medium, and also with drawing and painting. And he complains about them. But then he goes ahead and uses them anyway, quite decisively.”

Commentary by Marcelle Sauvageot. “In a world in which social media encourage us to hide our flaws, this book attempts to remind us that those who love us because of our flaws, not in spite of them, are those who love us best.”

The Faint-hearted Bolshevik by Lorenzo Silva. “Let’s say you’re in a car accident. It’s not a bad one. You rear-end someone on a busy highway where traffic is crawling. And let’s say the person you hit happens to be a wealthy woman who leaps from her vehicle and berates you in language unfit for the ears of small children. What would you do?”

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus. “After the attacks of September 11th, it seemed like everyone was asking the same question: Why do they (the terrorists) hate us (Americans)? Some offered various answers, and some argued the answer didn’t matter. What mattered was that the terrorists killed lots of Americans and now Americans should kill lots of terrorists. For a while trying to learn why the terrorists hate us seemed like giving them credibility. But now Andre Dubus III’s new novel, The Garden of Last Days, takes a long, hard look at why one fictional terrorist hates Americans so much.”

The Professor’s Daughter by Emily Raboteau. “The novel becomes an optimistic look at human strength. It says: “Accept your wisdom.” It says: You can suffer life-long torment and still bounce back. It gives the reader, in spite of the broken family and the scarred lives, a reason to look forward—and perhaps encouragement to “begin.”