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Joe Pace. Reliquary, $14.99 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-1-936519-99-6
Pace (Minotaur) unpacks the legacies of war and family in his thoughtful if uneven latest. Oscar Kendall teaches English literature at an exclusive private school outside Washington, D.C., where he hides the fact that he’s the son of a famous libertine author. After the death of his father, Isaiah, whom Oscar met only once but who sent regular letters dispensing age-inappropriate advice and sharing stories about his combat duty in Korea, Oscar inherits Isaiah’s New Hampshire cabin, where he discovers an unpublished manuscript. Oscar has nursed ambitions of being a writer himself and dithers about claiming the work as his own. Meanwhile, he gets to know prickly Afghanistan veteran May Pierce, who lost both of her legs from a bombing, and whose grandmother was Isaiah’s former lover. Oscar has a hard time respecting May’s insistence that they keep their friendship platonic as she divulges the horrifying story of her injuries and takes him to visit her aunt’s farm where she pushed herself as a competitive runner before joining the Army. May’s story culminates in a tragic episode, which feels out of the blue. Though the plot turns are a bit rough and the tone can feel overly maudlin, the author musters plenty of powerful reflections on war from both May and Isaiah. This ambitious character study is worth a look. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 03/10/2023

Release date 12/01/2021