Locus Review of One for Sorrow

Gary Wolfe reviewed One for Sorrow in Locus this month.  It was a feature review, and I loved reading what he made of the book.  Okay, so I love reading and hearing what anyone thinks about the book, but this was yet another one of those detailed, thoughtful reviews that I enjoy so much, that offer me insights into my own writing, which is one of the things I think a good review can do for writers.

What finally holds the novel together isn’t the wealth of its supernatural invention, but its sharp, unsentimental characterization, its stark immediacy of setting, and — perhaps most of all — Barzak’s spare, lyrical prose which, as in his earlier short stories (including “Dead Boy Found”, which appeared in Kelly Link’s 1993 Trampoline and provided the germ of One for Sorrow) is compelling enough to convince you that Barzak is an auspicious new voice, deeply humane, deeply intelligent, and deeply observant. It’s one of the strongest first novels I’ve seen this year.

Read the rest here.

Way Cool Moments

The San Francisco Chronicle recently published their holiday gift-book recommendations, and on the sf list you will find Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff, along with Kage Baker’s The Sons of Heaven, Emma Bull’s Territory, Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts, China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, Naomi Novik’s Empire of Ivory, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, Dan Simmons’ The Terror, Charlie Stross’ Halting State and my own One For Sorrow.

Another way cool moment. I’m having a lot of those lately. It feels weird.

SF Site Review

Paul Kincaid on One for Sorrow:

Whether you read the ghost story as a metaphor for Adam’s psychological travails, or the upheavals in Adam’s family as a grim mirror for the haunting, this is a superbly structured, beautifully written coming of age story. It is, in its way, as powerful and affecting a debut as The Catcher in the Rye was half a century before.

That’s the end of the review (the part where I thought, awesome!!) but there’s a really amazingly detailed summary and explication of the book’s plot that precedes this.

The Literary Detective

flags.jpgViriginie over at The Literary Detective wrote about One for Sorrow on her French blog last month, and in between then and now she interviewed me for a new series of author interviews that she would like to start. Here are the results of our interview across the ocean. She asked really great questions, and having done a number of interviews about One for Sorrow in the past few months, I can say assuredly that they were great. You can read our interview en francais too.

Winter Blog Blast

Today Ms. Bond over at Shaken and Stirred posted an interview with me for the Winter Blog Blast, and tomorrow Colleen Mondor will be doing the same at her blog Chasing Ray.

I’ve been doing so many interviews lately, I’m not sure if I’m repeating myself or dreaming of answering questions, or what.  Today I wrote responses to an interview for a website in France, and then, in a moment of confusion, deleted the answers, somehow thinking that I had emailed them to my interviewer.  When I realized what I’d done (six hours later) I ran up to my office at the university and turned on the computer, hoping to find the deleted file in the computer’s recycle bin.  It was empty.  Apparently the university computers are set to empty contents daily.  Now when I rewrite those answers tomorrow my sense of deja vu will be even more pronounced.

Sweet dreams.  And see you at Chasing Ray tomorrow.

On Target

Happy Halloween to all you ghosts, goblins and witches. I’m getting ready to leave for the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY this weekend. Hope everyone has a good one. Mine has already started out really well. I’m pleased to announce that Target has selected One for Sorrow to be one of their Breakout Books. It should be in stores as of yesterday.

Washington Post Review

A really pleasant surprise this morning. Though I don’t think it will appear in print until tomorrow, One for Sorrow has been reviewed in The Washington Post. And reviewed well! An excerpt:

Traveling through this story with Adam is like a nightmare, but the kind that fascinates you so deeply that when you wake up, you grab the first person you see and tell him about it. The language is deceptively simple. Barzak writes about the supernatural with fearless originality. The ghost doesn’t appear to Adam as a specter glimpsed in a mirror or reflected in the bathtub water; instead, the dead boy, naked and wearing the grit of the grave between his teeth, climbs onto Adam’s back and rides him through the woods to the abandoned crime scene. Jamie can temporarily re-warm his dead flesh by choosing one of his memories and burning it from within, a page of his life lost forever. He begins with the memory of who murdered him.

The portrait of Adam’s family is also unexpected. What drives Adam crazy is not so much that his mother is bound to a wheelchair as that she becomes best friends with the drunk driver who caused her accident. And the love story is just as fresh. When Gracie introduces Adam to sex, he decides she smells like a sunflower, not the plant but the word “sunflower.”

One for Sorrow is ultimately a coming-of-age story, more melancholy than morbid and, by the end, profoundly hopeful. The writing is beautiful, honest and heartbreaking. Sometimes it takes a character infatuated with death to remind us why life matters.

Read the whole review by clicking here.


I found this video on YouTube tonight. It’s made by a young woman named Megan in a nearby city. She read One for Sorrow and has taken photos as well as quotes from the book and set them to music by The Bravery. The song totally rocks. Megan says in the beginning of the slide show (and in her summary on YouTube itself) that these photos and this song remind her of the book, and that the book echoes for her. Megan, if you read this, I just want to say that this montage you’ve made echoes for me, too. I love it. Thank you.