While a couple of the stories merited the accolades, others seemed little more than writing-workshop exercises
Now Quarto's first novel, "Fire Sermon," shows the same barely rudimentary technique along with some moments of beautiful writing. The book, 208 pages in its hard-cover edition and 110 on my e-reader, is more an extended short story, as The New York Times' Dwight Garner pointed out in panning the book.
Quarto returns to themes of female desire, adultery, religious faith, and the challenges of marriage and motherhood. Her characters are poorly defined, and she resorts to narrative techniques already outmoded in the 18th century.
After showing little understanding of plot development, Quarto finishes on a high note with a poignant look at the late stages of a long marriage in which commitment and loyalty overcome years of dissatisfaction and turmoil.
Perhaps Quarto will achieve a real novel someday. "Fire Sermon" falls short of full combustion.