Book Review: Glass House by John Palisano

glass house

Title: Glass House

Author: John Palisano

Release date: June 22, 2021

One of the first people who really took the time to encourage me when I started out trying to navigate the dark fiction world was John Palisano. John was super supportive and has always wanted to see me succeed, which for someone who was just getting involved was such a kindness.

On my end – I’ve definitely failed in reading as much of John’s work as I should’ve by now. I have a few of his releases, but have only read ‘Night of 1000 Beasts,’ which had some great moments that have stayed with me since.

Now, with ‘Glass House’ announced, I jumped on snagging it and dove in as soon as I could.

Wow, what an experience.

What I liked: From 2007-2014 there was a TV show on Showtime called Californication. It followed the down-and-out exploits of Hank Moody, an alcoholic, drug-addicted, sex-addicted writer, struggling to navigate his world as a best-selling author who wants to remain doted to the love of his life and their daughter. The main character was played masterfully by David Duchovny and while I loved the show and consider it one of my personal favorites of all time, the one negative I often had was the frequent lack of introspection that we would get from Moody.

Why do I start with all of this?

‘Glass House’ to me at least, read like finding Hank Moody’s journal and reading about how his life had spiraled apart after the show. How our main character had everything at one point – wife, house, seven figure bank account and a loving son, to now be renting a room in his girlfriends house, late on rent, struggling to co-parent with his wife and her new guy and working occasionally as a house sitter to make ends meet.

Palisano has delivered a stunning novella that ran the gamut of emotions. Using both prose and poetry (and song lyrics) to showcase this characters sad downward trajectory.

One thing I loved was how this house that our character has been at many times before, now seems to be this key, that has unlocked the deepest darkest memories and seems to amplify how they have truly effected our character. with them unlocked, Palisano deftly weaves a story that is chaotic and claustrophobic while also being impactful and intropsective.

What I didn’t like:  It’s an odd thing, because I LOVED this book, but there were a few moments throughout where I maybe didn’t get the full meaning of certain parts. I think this was purposeful, especially with the usage of poetry and lyrics, but I did find a few places where I had to re-read it to try and make sure I understood the meaning of what was happening.

Why you should buy this: This novella was truly stunning. A dark, memoir-esque piece that was both visceral and haunting. Palisano has truly crafted an engaging story that packed a wallop. I really loved how dark this went but at the same time we get to see someone trying to find the light.

Really well done, and something that’ll be staying with me for a long, long time.


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