David Grandouiller lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes about faith and religion, Christian education, film, cats, and music. He is a third-year candidate in the MFA in Creative Writing at The Ohio State University and the Nonfiction Editor at The Journal. His essay, “Holy Uselessness,” was a finalist for the 2019 Orison Anthology Award in Nonfiction, and a group of his essays won the 2019 Walter Rumsey Marvin grant from the Ohioana Library Association.


INCIDENTAL INVENTIONS, short pieces by Elena Ferrante, reviewed by David Grandouiller

Incidental Inventions book jacket
INCIDENTAL INVENTIONS by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein, illustrations by Andrea Ucini Europa Editions, 112 pages reviewed by David Grandouiller “Me” who? We’ll always know too little about ourselves.—Elena Ferrante Who is the Italian novelist we call Elena Ferrante? Since her first novel’s publication in 1992, she—with the help of her publishers—has carefully maintained the real author’s anonymity. Many readers have treated this guarded privacy as a playful challenge, making theories and guesses, particularly in recent years as Ferrante has become increasingly celebrated. The Italian philologist Marco Santagata, after analyzing her oeuvre, suggested she might be the writer Marcella Marmo (Marmo and her publisher denied this). More controversially, the journalist Claudio Gatti dug up financial records to claim that Anita Raja is the author behind Ferrante—others suggest it may be Raja’s husband. One can imagine the confirmation of one of these claims could incite a variety of reactions in Ferrante’s readership, but there’s a more fundamental question behind that of the author’s identity: why do people want to know? What makes some readers so curious about a writer’s “real life”? Do we (because I’m one of them) want the fiction to absorb reality—to make a fiction out of the ...
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ALL THE FIERCE TETHERS, essays by Lia Purpura, reviewed by David Grandouiller

ALL THE FIERCE TETHERS, essays by Lia Purpura, reviewed by David Grandouiller
ALL THE FIERCE TETHERS by Lia Purpura Sarabande Books, 128 pages reviewed by David Grandouiller It’s hard to find communion with a living thing in winter. Anyone with a burrow crawls in, wraps their tail around their eyes. The other night, when snow had just started falling, I braved the interstate on my way to another city, to share a friend’s burrow. Some black ice spun me around, and I slid off the road, stopped in the median, my tread marks looping back through the new snow like a confused shadow. I’m fine, thanks. I didn’t turn around, kept driving, couldn’t bear missing a chance not to be alone. The car’s fine, too, just brown all over from the dirt I scooped up. I haven’t washed it yet. I like chauffeuring dirt around the city, an unanswered text message from the world of matter: I’m still here. Spring is coming, and with it a new book by the poet and essayist Lia Purpura, All the Fierce Tethers. These essays are the kind of encounters I’d drive in bad weather for. Some are a lot like the heat of another warm body in a small space, some like skidding through ...
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HOW WE SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER: AN ESSAY DAILY READER, edited by Ander Monson & Craig Reinbold, reviewed by David Grandouiller

HOW WE SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER: AN ESSAY DAILY READER, edited by Ander Monson & Craig Reinbold, reviewed by David Grandouiller
HOW WE SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER: AN ESSAY DAILY READER edited by Ander Monson & Craig Reinbold Coffee House Press, 309 pages reviewed by David Grandouiller The oldest post on the Essay Daily blog is from Monday, January 18th, 2010, by Ander Monson, who taught at the University of Arizona and teaches there now. It’s a list of essays included in the Indiana Review 31.2: Claire Dunnington, "Green Eggs and Therapy" Joan Cusack Handler, "Beanstalk" Jen Percy, "The Usual Spots" Tom Fleischmann, "On Alticorns" The next day—Tuesday—there are six posts, all by Monson, and some of them are lists. One of them is titled, “A word about the space,” which he defines as “a collaborative space to talk about some of the better (by which I mean more interesting) essays to appear in the literary journals that publish the majority of what we like to refer to as creative nonfiction, or literary nonfiction.” “If you'd like to talk,” writes Monson, “about an issue, a journal, or an essay (or a trend in essaying) that you're hot and bothered by, this would be a good space for that.” Essay Daily’s first anthology, How We Speak to One Another, is proof, seven years ...
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BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH, a novel by Yoram Kaniuk, reviewed by David Grandouiller

BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH, a novel by Yoram Kaniuk, reviewed by David Grandouiller
BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH by Yoram Kaniuk translated by Barbara Harshav Restless Books, 219 pages reviewed by David Grandouiller Yoram Kaniuk, an Israeli novelist who died in 2013, was the kind of man who tells jokes as he's dying in the hospital, even when he has no voice, when there's a respirator thrust through an incision in his chest. His humor is at times bitter, biting like Sholem Aleichem's pogrom narratives, descending into sullen anti-prayers: “cancer, like Hitler...is a messenger of the Lord.” In this respect, Kaniuk's Between Life and Death, published this year in English, probably most closely resembles Christopher Hitchens' Mortality. A sense of the meaninglessness in so much of life, of banality in death, pervades both authors’ stories. Kaniuk rages and rejoices, but sometimes qualifies these outbursts by settling, like Hitchens, for a tone of ambivalent irony, communicated in prose thick with vibrant images and cumulative sentences. In Kaniuk's world, sons and fathers are dying, mothers and daughters, and “rain pipes” and “secret bays” and “natural pools” are dying, the parking lot of the concert hall (“may-it-rest-in-peace”) on Ibn Gabirol Street is dying, and the restaurant, First Cellar, on Ben Yehudah, died long ago: “A world where ...
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