Liz Axelrod

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Brooklyn Rail – Jan 2012

by Liz Axelrod

Joseph Salvatore
To Assume A Pleasing Shape 
(BOA Editions, 2011)

An innate sense of sadness and joy runs through Joseph Salvatore’s To Assume A Pleasing Shape. Salvatore, an experimental fiction writer and creative writing professor at the New School (where, full disclosure, I met him through his teaching), plays with form and language to create a mix of strong, sensual, and satisfying journeys. The stories are brushed with just enough intellectual insight and humor to conjure visions of our own self-worth and the lengths we go to create the relationships that sustain us. Told by multiple narrators—a gay man, a goth girl, an anthropology professor, a husband, a young student living abroad—the tales are filled with a warm mix of tension and desire, and at times a coldness, as if the author wants us to step back and analyze the origins of those chilling moments.

 

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