Review of Gabriel Tallent’s “My Absolute Darling” in the Dallas Morning News

So my review of Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel, My Absolute Darling, appears in the Dallas Morning News today, and can be found here. The marketing of this novel seems odd: The combination of its sweet title, the brightly colored branches and needles of the redwoods (it’s set in Northern California) on the book jacket and the glowing blurbs (one of which mentions the book’s “humor”) makes it seem the book is being presented as something of a love story. But the actual plot line is about a beer-guzzling, crazed loner of a father raping and abusing his much-put-upon daughter, a rough-hewn teenage girl. It’s a tough story, and by the end, resembles more horror than coming-of-age—a hybrid of sorts. That’s not unusual (the hybrid nature), and writers—such as Stephen Graham Jones’s in All the Beautiful Sinners and many others—have done this masterfully, though I think it’s usually acknowledged in the presentation of the book. I was surprised while reading it, noticing that great discrepancy between the book the ad copy presented and what it actually was.

About williamjcobb

William J. Cobb is a novelist, essayist, and short fiction writer whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The Mississippi Review, The Antioch Review, and many others. He’s the author of two novels—The Fire Eaters (W.W. Norton 1994) and Goodnight, Texas (Unbridled 2006)—and a book of stories, The White Tattoo (Ohio State UP 2002). He has reviewed books for the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and the New York Times. He lives in Pennsylvania and Colorado. He may be contacted at
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