RidgewayGirl Reads in 2019 -- Part Two

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RidgewayGirl Reads in 2019 -- Part Two

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Editado: Abr 11, 2019, 5:32pm

Spring is here and with the Tournament of Books entering into its last week, I'm free to spend the next few months with no reading obligations (self-inflicted though they may be) outside of my book club. Let the fun begin!

This thread's visual theme is Gustav Klimt's landscapes. Everyone's familiar with his portraits of women, but his landscapes are amazing. This one is called Buchenwald (Beech Forest) and you can see it in the Galerie Neue Meister in Dresden.

Editado: Jul 6, 2019, 1:14pm

Currently Reading

Recently Read

Recently Acquired

Editado: Jul 5, 2019, 10:05pm

Editado: Jul 5, 2019, 10:07pm

Pedantic Lists that Make Me Very Happy

Books by Year of Publication

Desert Fabuloso by Lisa Lovenheim

The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm

Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, translated by Louise Heal Kawai

Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg

First Execution by Domenico Starnone, translated by Antony Shugaar

The Years by Annie Ernaux

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell

Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua, translated by Mitch Ginsburg

Assumption by Percival Everett
Our Man in the Dark by Rashad Harrison

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Dawn: Stories by Selahattin Demirtas
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Dead Girls by Alice Bolin
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Sopinka
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley
The Lonely Witness by William Boyle
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
Milkman by Anna Burns
November Road by Lou Berney
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Snap by Belinda Bauer
So Lucky by Nicola Griffith
Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Altruists by Andrew Ridker
American Pop by Snowden Wright
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
The Ash Family by Molly Dektar
Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
The Children of the Ghetto: My Name is Adam by Elias Khoury
The Churchgoer by Patrick Coleman
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
East of England by Eamonn Griffin
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Golden State by Ben H. Winters
The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Make Me a City by Jonathan Carr
The New Me by Halle Butler
Paris, 7 a.m. by Liza Wieland
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
The Snakes by Sadie Jones
Staff Picks by George Singleton
The Study of Animal Languages by Lindsay Stern
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky
The Water Cure by Sophie MacKintosh
We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White
The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh
Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Editado: Jul 5, 2019, 10:09pm

Nationalities of Authors Read

Samanta Schweblin (Mouthful of Birds)

Gail Jones (The Death of Noah Glass)

Pat Barker (The Silence of the Girls)
Belinda Bauer (Snap)
Graeme Macrae Burnet (His Bloody Project)
Anna Burns (Milkman)
Diana Evans (Ordinary People)
Eamonn Griffin (East of England)
Sadie Jones (The Snakes)
Sophie MacKintosh (The Water Cure)
Sarah Moss (Ghost Wall)
Ruth Ware (The Death of Mrs. Westaway)

Esi Edugyan (Washington Black
Michael Ondaatje (Warlight) (Country of Residence)
Heidi Sopinka (The Dictionary of Animal Languages)
Miriam Toews (Women Talking)

The Years by Annie Ernaux

Liz Nugent (Lying in Wait)
Sally Rooney (Conversations with Friends)

Sayed Kashua (Second Person Singular)

Domenico Starnone (First Execution)

Hideo Yokoyama (Seventeen)

Elias Khoury (Children of the Ghetto: My Name is Adam)

Valeria Luiselli (Lost Children Archive)

Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister, the Serial Killer)

Sri Lanka
Michael Ondaatje (Warlight) (Country of Birth)

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

Selahattin Demirtas (Dawn: Stories)

Lou Berney (November Road)
Alice Bolin (Dead Girls)
William Boyle (The Lonely Witness)
Jamel Brinkley (A Lucky Man)
Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Fleishman is in Trouble)
Halle Butler (The New Me)
Jonathan Carr (Make Me a City)
Susan Choi (Trust Exercise)
Patrick Coleman (The Churchgoer)
Molly Dektar (The Ash Family)
Marcy Dermansky (Very Nice)
Keith Gessen (A Terrible Country)
Myla Goldberg (Wickett's Remedy)
Nicola Griffith (So Lucky)
Jasmine Guillory (The Wedding Date)
Kristen Hannah (The Great Alone)
Rashad Harrison (Our Man in the Dark)
Uzodinma Iweala (Speak No Evil)
Patrick Radden Keefe (Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland)
Laura Lippman (The Lady in the Lake)
Lisa Lovenheim (Desert Fabuloso)
Janet Malcolm (The Journalist and the Murderer)
Elizabeth McCracken (Bowlaway)
Laura McHugh (The Wolf Wants In)
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi (Call Me Zebra)
Richard Powers (The Overstory)
Taylor Jenkins Reid (Daisy Jones & The Six)
Andrew Ridker (The Altruists)
George Singleton (Staff Picks)
Lindsay Stern (The Study of Animal Languages)
Sarah St. Vincent (Ways to Hide in Winter)
Sarah Weinman (The Real Lolita)
Susan Rebecca White (We Are All Good People Here)
Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad)
Liza Wieland (Paris, 7 a.m.)
Lauren Wilkinson (American Spy)
Ben H. Winters (Golden State)
Snowden Wright (American Pop)

Mar 24, 2019, 7:20pm

And my new thread is open for business.

Mar 24, 2019, 7:22pm

Happy new thread, Kay. You've had some great reads so far this year.

I love the Klimt.

Mar 24, 2019, 10:21pm

>1 RidgewayGirl:, >8 BLBera: Hmmm, you can't always see it at MoMA; I don't think it was on view yesterday. But I also missed my Kandinskys so I may have skipped its room due to overcrowdedness.

Mar 25, 2019, 7:25am

As usual, your thread topper is beautiful. Happy new thread. :-)

Mar 25, 2019, 7:45am

Beth, this is the landscape that introduced me to Klimt's landscapes. They're so intricate and atmospheric that they really are works that need to be seen in person to get the full effect.

Liz, I hope they haven't put it in storage, but they do have so much more art than room to display it.

Thanks, Colleen.

Mar 25, 2019, 10:10am

In The Journalist and the Murderer Janet Malcolm examines the relationship between the journalist and his subject, through the example of Joe McGinness and Jeffrey MacDonald, the subject of McGinness's best-selling book, Fatal Vision. McGinness was invited into the inner circle of MacDonald's defense team and he spent hours with MacDonald, and he continued to write friendly letters to MacDonald after MacDonald's conviction for the murder of his wife and daughters. When MacDonald read the book, he felt betrayed and sued the author for fraud and breech of contract.

Malcolm was invited to speak with McGinness and to write about the case by McGinness's defense team, but after a single interview, McGinness refused to speak to her again. Malcolm constructed her book out of interviews with various people involved in both cases, as well as the court transcripts, but she notes the absence at the center of the story. Did McGinness cross a line in allowing MacDonald to view him as a sympathetic ear who believed in his innocence? Are journalists free to lie and deceive in order to get their story?

While Malcolm does not provide any solid answers, the presentation of the questions and of the strange story of the relationship between the journalist and the murderer does make for compelling reading and much to think about.

Mar 25, 2019, 11:01am

>1 RidgewayGirl: Wow, that's a gorgeous Klimt painting.
I am enjoying following the field notes and the gengeral comments this year in the ToB. It's getting down to the wire!

Mar 25, 2019, 11:20am

Mary, it's outrageously exciting, given how essentially meaningless it is. I do love it.

Mar 25, 2019, 12:31pm

>12 RidgewayGirl: This one does sound interesting, Kay. Onto the WL it goes.

>14 RidgewayGirl: I love it!

Mar 26, 2019, 1:12pm

Wondering what she pinned him on in that first interview.

Way behind and just read a zillion on your reviews (or maybe it was ~7?). All interesting, all books I haven’t read and am now curious about. Really thinking about Children of the Ghetto. I know this story - Lyddo/Lod - although I can’t recall where I read about it. Maybe in two or more different places. The perspective appeals a lot.

Mar 28, 2019, 7:53am

Really interesting stuff, Beth, and not anything I've read before.

Daniel, Malcolm talks about being eager to talk to him, feeling that a meeting of two non-fiction authors would be more collegial than a straight interview. McGinness wanted the straight interview and wasn't communicative, so she cut the interview short. He then canceled the rest of the planned interviews. Malcolm thinks that he was still recovering from the long cross-examination by MacDonald's team.

And the Khoury book is excellent. I'm now reading another book from that part of the world called Second Person Singular by an Arab-Israeli author named Sayed Kashua.

Mar 28, 2019, 10:28am

1> I like Klimt's landscapes much better than his portraits. There are some gorgeous ones in Vienna's Belvedere.

Mar 28, 2019, 2:05pm

I love that Klimt! Last exhibit of his I saw, at the Neue Galerie, was all about his women so no landscapes... but I'd love to see a show devoted exclusively to them. His pencil sketches are pretty amazing, though.

Kay, have you read Malcolm's latest collection, Nobody's Looking at You?

Editado: Mar 29, 2019, 9:57am

>18 janeajones: Jane, I spent a fantastic day in the Belvedere a few years ago and could happily visit it regularly. I agree about preferring his landscapes, although I wonder if, at least in part, that's because his portraits are so ubiquitous and therefore kind of stale?

>19 lisapeet: Lisa, I would very much like to visit the Neue Galerie. I'll have to plan a day trip in when visiting my MIL.

I have only read a few books by Janet Malcolm, and not her newest.

Mar 29, 2019, 4:17pm

>20 RidgewayGirl: Their cafe has amazing cake. I haven't been to the museum yet, but I had to have a dessert.

Mar 30, 2019, 12:48pm

Love the Klimt too and I was thrilled to stumble upon it on my last visit to MOMA.

Mar 30, 2019, 5:09pm

>21 ELiz_M: Do they have German and Austrian cakes?

>22 Nickelini: Joyce, it's quite something, isn't it? So much more lush and atmospheric than a reproduction in a book.

Editado: Mar 31, 2019, 3:24pm

The Water Cure tells the story of three young women living on a Scottish island with their parents. They have spent their lives there and know that off the island is a world where men hurt women, the air is toxic and they would surely die. Living in an isolated, decaying hotel, protected by the rites and tests designed to keep them wary and safe, they find various ways to survive. The oldest, Grace, has been rewarded for her diligence with a swelling stomach while Lia, the middle daughter, cuts herself for the good of all of them. Their father leaves one day, and then the two men and a boy show up on their island.

This is an odd and dreamy dystopian novel where the reader is left in the same information-deprived limbo as the three women. They're trying to survive, but what they've been taught might not actually be true and their father was perhaps not the protector they believed him to be. I read this book desperately wanting more information about the world this novel exists in, but by the end of the story, I had just enough to satisfy me, without spelling out everything. Sophie MacKintosh writes evocatively about the inner lives of these isolated women, but if you're looking for clear resolutions, they remain tantalizingly just out of sight.

Editado: Abr 3, 2019, 7:59pm

Charlotte is raising her two daughters in a small Oklahoma town where everyone knows everyone else, and things are done as they always have been. She's married to an alcoholic who has trouble keeping a job, although his family's status in the town means he usually has one. It's 1963, and she's suffocating under the need to keep up appearances and with the lack of opportunity for women. She'd like to become a photographer, but that's out of the question. So when her husband slips out for a few drinks after a family dinner, she packs up her daughters and the dog and takes off, traveling west, to where an aunt she's lost touch with used to live.

Frank is a mobster who has worked his way up the ladder. He's got a sweet life in New Orleans, trusted by his boss, able to rely on his charisma and smooth-talking to get things done. But when he realizes that he knows what really happened on that November day in Dallas and that his boss is systematically eliminating everyone involved, he goes on the run. But his boss has a long reach and no matter how carefully he runs, a single man is too conspicuous to get far.

November Road is just a fantastic noir. Lou Berney has every thing in the right places and writes so very well. There's not a misstep or flat note in the entire novel, which demands to be read at far to quick a pace. Charlotte is a fantastic character and there was not a single moment when I was not pulling for her. This is just a superbly written, researched and plotted crime novel. They don't come better than this.

Abr 3, 2019, 7:15pm

>25 RidgewayGirl: Great! I already have this one on the shelf. Mind you, I expected no less from Lou Berney.

Abr 3, 2019, 8:01pm

>26 VivienneR: Vivienne, I picked this up because I wanted a sure thing, and Berney delivered. I'm glad I went ahead and bought my own copy of this one right away.

Editado: Abr 3, 2019, 8:52pm

>25 RidgewayGirl: Agreed, that one was fun. Just waiting to become a movie, but hey why not.

Editado: Abr 3, 2019, 11:51pm

The Water Cure sounds like a good one, Kay. Onto the list it goes.

I"ve never read any by Berney, but this one sounds good.

Abr 4, 2019, 7:36am

Beth, Lou Berney is fantastic. I read The Long and Faraway Gone a few years ago and loved how he combined great storytelling with nuanced characters. And the setting - Oklahoma City - wasn't one I've seen a lot.

Abr 4, 2019, 9:26am

Second Person Singular by Palestinian-Israeli author Sayed Kashua tells the story of two men, both Arabs, living in Jerusalem. Superficially, they have similar histories; they both come from small villages and they both came to Jerusalem to go to university and stayed afterward. One man became a successful lawyer, living in a beautiful house with his wife and two young children, he drives a BMW. He's not in love with his wife, but when he finds an affectionate note in his wife's handwriting, tucked into a used book he just purchased, he becomes consumed with jealously and anger and is determined to find the man the note was intended for.

The other man became a social worker. He's struggling financially but he resists his mother's entreaties to return to the village he left. He works during the day for a government agency providing social services to heroin addicts and at night he is the caretaker for a young man his age who due to an unspecified accident, lives in a vegetative state. When events cause him to quit his day job, he becomes more fascinated with the past of his Jewish patient, reading his books, listening to his music and using his camera.

Second Person Singular is just a fantastic book. While neither man is particularly sympathetic, it's impossible not to be drawn into their lives. How Kashua draws the two men's lives together is riveting. I will be reading more by this author, who is well-known in Israel.

Abr 5, 2019, 1:57pm

>31 RidgewayGirl: I’ll have to keep this one in mind. (Have to be careful with your thread)

Abr 6, 2019, 3:36pm

The Water Cure and Second Person Singular sound great. And I'm trying so hard not to buy more books......

Abr 6, 2019, 3:44pm

>25 RidgewayGirl:, >31 RidgewayGirl: These sound interesting, Kay. As Dan says, your thread is dangerous.

Abr 6, 2019, 9:23pm

Daniel, I will drag you into contemporary literature, do not try to resist. Seriously, Kashua is fantastic and I can't wait to read more by him.

Jane, the struggle is real.

Colleen, I think that you will love November Road when you get to it and I'd be interested in finding out what you think of Second Person Singular.

Abr 7, 2019, 5:17am

Second Person Singular sounds fantastic - adding that to the teetering wish list.

Abr 8, 2019, 10:53am

Oh gosh - some real book bullets here!

Abr 8, 2019, 4:43pm

Wow. I’ve finally caught up with both of your threads, Kay, which are chock full of great reviews of enticing books. You’re the second or third person who has written a glowing review of Second Person Singular, so I’ll be on the lookout for it this month.

Abr 8, 2019, 5:18pm

Alison, it's really good. I'm still thinking about it.

wandering_star, I was hit by them myself -- most of the books I read I find because of all of you here on Club Read.

Darryl, I picked this up because of SqueakyChu's review over in the 75er group.

Abr 8, 2019, 5:18pm

A Lucky Man is a collection of short stories by Jamel Brinkley. This is a noteworthy collection; not only are short stories a hard sell for established authors, but for a new author like Brinkley, published by a smaller publisher outside of the Big Five to get any attention at all is unusual. Yet A Lucky Man shows up on prize lists as diverse as the National Book Award and The Tournament of Books. The attention the is book is getting is well-deserved, the stories collected here are varied, but all speak to the experience of growing up as a person of color in New York. Like most collections, there were a few weaker offerings sandwiched between the strongest stories at the front and back of the book, but all were worth reading. Brinkley's skill is to bring the inner life of a child to life and to make the reader feel every uncertainty. This is a collection that brings to life the people living in the ungentrified areas of New York's boroughs. It's a good collection and I'll be sure to read whatever Brinkley writes next.

Abr 9, 2019, 7:36am

>40 RidgewayGirl: I really liked this collection a lot—there was so much emotional intelligence and insight to it. It was a finalist for The Story Prize and I was rooting for it. I’ll definitely read whatever he comes out with next.

Abr 9, 2019, 4:48pm

>41 lisapeet: I agree entirely. Brinkley writes like a seasoned master of his craft. And it's so fun to see first time authors not only get short story collections published, but also receive an appropriate amount of attention for it.

Abr 11, 2019, 9:44am

>30 RidgewayGirl: I've added November Road to my wishlist but should I start with something else of his instead?

Abr 11, 2019, 5:34pm

>43 rhian_of_oz: The two novels by Berney that I've read are November Road and The Long and Faraway Gone, which is set in the recent past in Oklahoma City and is also excellent.

Abr 11, 2019, 5:53pm

While Noah Glass's two adult children are still making funeral plans and coming to terms with the sudden death of their father, the police arrive to let them know that he is suspected of having stolen an Italian statue. Noah Glass was an art historian and he had recently been in Palermo, but his area of expertise was far removed from the relatively recent sculpture and his personal views made such an accusation unthinkable to his children. Evie, who has traveled to Sydney from her home in Melbourne and is staying in her father's apartment, isn't interested in the subject, but Martin, a divorced father and artist, can't get it out of his mind. So he goes to Palermo, determined to find answers.

The Death of Noah Glass takes each of the three characters, Noah, Evie and Martin, and spends alternating chapters with each of them as they are pulled into environments that challenge and stretch them, even as they come to terms with the past. This is a quiet, but gorgeously told story of family. Gail Jones's writing here reminded me of Anne Tyler's best work, with its tight focus on family ties and reliance on good writing and complex and nuanced characters to tell the story.

Abr 12, 2019, 8:06pm

The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of The Iliad, this time from the point of view of Briseis, a young woman married to the son of a king until Achilles sacked her city and she was taken captive as a slave and given to Achilles. While she has an important role to play in the events, it is as a pawn and not as an active participant. In The Silence of the Girls, Briseis is given her voice and tells her own story.

Pat Barker knows how to tell a story well and this novel is no exception. She takes a familiar tale and makes the least important people, the women taken as slaves, the central focus. I really enjoy that these old and familiar myths are not being kept static, but are being reimagined and reinvigorated. It's also interesting to compare this retelling with Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles, a substantially different and yet equally compelling version of the same story.

Abr 14, 2019, 4:57pm

Mark Haines is a security guard, working at a light industry park in the down-at-its-heels city of Oceanside, California. He surfs a bit, enjoys a breakfast burrito and works hard to keep himself together and to himself. He had been the youth pastor at a mega-church until he lost his faith and went of the rails, which left him with a daughter who won't speak to him, an ex-wife who still prays for him and little else. Then, one morning, he pays for a hitchhiker's meal and is pulled right back into life again, but also a lot of trouble. The hitchhiker is a young woman running from her past, but she's been associating with some shady characters, which may all lead Mark into more trouble than even a cynical loner can handle.

The Churchgoer by Patrick Coleman combines two things that I like a lot. The first is a well-told and solidly plotted noir, and the other is a complex and nuanced main character. Coleman does a superb job telling Mark's story and in creating a character whose every action stems from who he is and what happened to him in the past. Mark is a thinker and an analyser, not at all compassionate with himself, but who does understand people. Coleman is also a talented writer. His descriptions of Oceanside and of the communities further inland are atmospheric and razor-sharp. I wasn't sure I'd want to spend an entire novel with a judgmental white dude like Mark Haines, but by the second chapter I was utterly hooked. Literary noir doesn't get much better than this.

Editado: Abr 14, 2019, 6:45pm

Damn - I went over to my library's ebook collection to make a note of Second Person Singular and it was available! So now I'll just have to read it. And The Churchgoer sounds excellent and is available for request from Netgalley.

I have to look away from your thread now.....

Abr 14, 2019, 6:49pm

>48 auntmarge64: Judy, I'm glad your library system has Second Person Singular. It's good to see translated novels being made widely available.

Abr 15, 2019, 3:29am

Noting The Churchgoer - sounds interesting.

Abr 15, 2019, 8:41am

Alison, it was so interesting. Both a well-executed noir and an examination of the marks and habit faith leaves on someone after they've abandoned it. Lots to think about.

Abr 15, 2019, 9:26am

>51 RidgewayGirl: doesn't seem to be released in the UK until July, but I'll keep an eye out for it.

Abr 16, 2019, 2:45pm

A Lucky Man and The Churchgoer sound terrific. Nice to see a Gail Jones review. I hope to read more by her. Not sure about another take in the Illiad - but I did ultimately like Song of Achilles a lot. All that is to say, more great books are showing up here.

Abr 18, 2019, 11:57am

Millie is working as a temp in the office of a design company. She answers phones and collates papers and dislikes her co-workers, who return the favor. Despite the mind-numbing boredom, she hopes to be made permanent and the signs are looking good. She thinks about how much her life will be improved by the modest bump in pay and begins her program to become The New Me, better than the old one, a person who doesn't spend all her time watching TV on her laptop and drinking, but who does things like yoga and reading and keeping her apartment tidy.

Halle Butler has written about a character who would fit right in with anything written by Ottessa Moshfegh. Millie is an unpleasant, suffocating person to spend time with and this novel was a delight. There was a sense of things being able to go in any number of directions, most of them very bad. Butler's writing was sharp as knives and nails the atmosphere of office life, a place where we are obligated to be, doing things we don't enjoy, in the company of people we'd rather not be around.

Abr 18, 2019, 1:13pm

>54 RidgewayGirl: ok, I couldn’t read that during my lunch break. That’s when I try to forget the office atmosphere.

Abr 18, 2019, 1:44pm

>55 dchaikin: Yes, this isn't one that will make you value your co-workers and enjoy the time you spend at the office. Unless it's to be grateful that you don't have Millie working with you.

Abr 18, 2019, 2:07pm

>54 RidgewayGirl: I think you’ve tempted me with this one, Kay.

Abr 18, 2019, 7:51pm

Colleen, good. I heard about this book via the Book Fight podcast, where Tom McAllister (who wrote How to Be Safe, a book I liked a lot) recommended it. And when I bought it at my local bookstore (M Judson Books), Ashley wanted to make sure that I knew it wasn't nice or heartwarming.

Abr 19, 2019, 1:10pm

Argh, I lost track of your thread, and I've just found it again and have been hit by *so many books* I want to read. Second Person Singular and the crime novel stand out. Fortunately I've already read The Silence of the Girls and The Water Cure!

Abr 20, 2019, 7:40pm

Putting Churchgoer and Second person singular on my list!

Abr 22, 2019, 12:24pm

Charlotte, my thread remains manageable after a few days inattention. The same can't be said of yours!

avidmom, they are both excellent. I'm having a great reading year.

Abr 22, 2019, 12:24pm

Set in the future, Ben H. Winters's novel, Golden State, posits a world where California exists alone, past its borders lies an unknown wasteland. Truth has become all important, and the protagonist of this novel works as a speculator, a truth cop who can feel a lie. Lazlo is a loner, haunted by the death of his brother and unhappy about being assigned a trainee. But at their first crime scene of the day, his new partner catches something he would have missed and they find themselves investigating a crime that is larger and more complex than he could have imagined.

Golden State works really well as a standard crime novel, albeit with an unusual setting. But it really shines when it comes to world building. There's more to this than lying becoming the greatest crime. Winters has thought of what the implications of this might be and it's fascinating. Winters also refuses to go in any of the expected directions, leading to a novel that never failed to surprise, delight and discombobulate.

Abr 22, 2019, 2:26pm

>45 RidgewayGirl: Oh, a new Gail Jones! (I clearly have not kept up).

Abr 22, 2019, 2:34pm

>63 avaland: Lois, it's due out May 7th. She's become one of my favorite authors.

Abr 24, 2019, 2:36pm

The first thing you need to know is that I am a sucker for that particular kind of good writing that doesn't draw attention to how good it is. Which is to say that I am a fan of Percival Everett's writing, which is not only exactly this kind of writing, but is also humane and compassionate in its characterizations. Each character is presented with such compassion that they feel complex and real. Which is to say that before I even opened Assumption, I was all in.

Assumption follows Ogden Walker, deputy sheriff in a largely empty rural county in the mountains of New Mexico. He loves fly fishing, visits his mother a lot and doesn't really like his job, but it does allow him to live where he wants to live. When an elderly woman is murdered moments after Ogden last spoke to her, it seems he'll have to do some real police work, as the case turns increasingly violent.

Assumption reads as though it's a standard noir-style crime novel. It's gritty and violent, but Ogden himself is a steady, if not particularly enthusiastic, lawman who treats the people he encounters with respect. As I read, I fell into reading it as something it only appeared to be on the surface. While Everett here demonstrates that he can write a perfect genre novel, that isn't what he's doing and, eventually, he tips his hand and upends his entire narrative. We're all familiar with an unreliable narrator, but this takes it further. I'm not sure yet what to make of what Everett does here. I plan to give it all time to settle and then reread the novel, in view of what I now know.

Abr 24, 2019, 5:57pm

>65 RidgewayGirl: Wow, what a totally tempting review, Kay.

Abr 24, 2019, 10:27pm

>65 RidgewayGirl: Hit with a book bullet.

Abr 25, 2019, 8:21am

>65 RidgewayGirl: your thread is dangerous, Kay. ;-)

Abr 25, 2019, 11:19am

>65 RidgewayGirl: intriguing!

Abr 25, 2019, 4:37pm

Hi Kay - Great comments on the Winters. I thought The Last Policeman was very good and have been looking at this one.

Abr 25, 2019, 10:21pm

I'm very pleased about all the interest in Percival Everett. A good starting point for him is his newest book, So Much Blue, although that is with the caveat that I've only read three of his novels.

Beth, I'm now eager to dig in to his Last Policeman series.

Abr 25, 2019, 11:09pm

I have a couple of his on the shelf, God's Country and Half an Inch of Water. Have you read either, Kay?

Abr 26, 2019, 4:46am

>65 RidgewayGirl: Not heard of this one, sounds good.

Another fan of Winters here.

Abr 26, 2019, 7:03pm

Golden State certainly appeals to my tastes, so I've requested it from the library. Good find!

Editado: Abr 28, 2019, 9:16pm

Golden State certainly appeals to my tastes, so I've requested it from the library. Good find! I've read the Last Policeman trilogy and loved it.

Assumption also sounds good.

Abr 27, 2019, 5:23am

I haven't been around for a month or so, so you can imagine how many book bullets were waiting for me on your thread! I'm currently reading The Silence of the Girls; I'm over half-way through and I'm really enjoying it.

Abr 28, 2019, 7:05am

>64 RidgewayGirl: She has been one of my favorites also (I even chased down and read her two short fiction collections), but I haven't read the last I acquired, A Guide to Berlin.... (wrings hands...so many authors!!!!!!)

>65 RidgewayGirl: Hmmm....

Abr 28, 2019, 9:42am

>71 RidgewayGirl: I'll watch for your comments on The Last Policeman trilogy, Kay. I wish he would have written one book, the first was the best by far, but I know others who loved the trilogy.

Maio 1, 2019, 10:57am

Lisa, I've only read So Much Blue, this novel and Watershed.

I'm going to read more by Winters, Charlotte. I have the first of his Last Policeman series on my ereader.

Margaret, I'm looking forward to finding out what you think of both books.

Rachel, The Silence of the Girls is wonderful I was so pleased to see it made the Women's Prize shortlist. Interesting to see it in competition with Circe.

Lois, A Guide to Berlin is my favorite of Jones's books, but as I read it on the train going to and returning from a weekend in Berlin, I can't be sure that this didn't influence my feelings. Ideally, I should have read The Death of Noah Glass on my way to Palermo.

Beth, I've heard that from others and plan, since he has other books out and is still writing, to read only that first book.

I spent a few days visiting my in-laws, celebrating my nephew becoming an Eagle Scout. It was a lot of fun, but while I returned to find the cats very happy to see me, the same could not be said of Ivy, the dog. The men started her on a diet while I was away and apparently there are hard feelings all around. She is sulking.

Maio 1, 2019, 10:59am

Toby Fleishman is in Trouble. He and his wife, Rachel, are in the middle of a divorce and while on-line hook-up apps have provided him with plenty to distract him, he's left with caring for two kids who aren't doing well with the divorce when his wife drops them off at his new apartment and disappears. He's also the financially disadvantaged spouse, being only a well-established specialist at a prestigious hospital which, in the wealthy enclaves of Manhattan, makes him contemptuously low-income. This is the challenge that debut author Taffy Brodesser-Akner has set for herself; how do you write a scathing send-up of an Upper East Side family in which the reader is invited to feel sorry for the handsome doctor who is getting laid regularly, but who has to make do with a bare third of a million a year to live on? There's only so much sympathy that can be pulled from Toby's below-average height and chronic insecurity.

For the most part, though, Brodesser-Akner pulls it off. The writing is smooth and having the narrator be an old friend of Toby's, who is now a New Jersey housewife, does ground the story somewhat. The final chapters of the novel are also far more nuanced and better written than the first three quarters, making me wish that the author had included the portions telling Rachel's story throughout the novel. One's enjoyment of this novel will depend entirely on one's tolerance for reading about the troubles of people living wealthy lives in Manhattan, but this does look like the literary vacation novel of the summer. It's an impressive debut that reads like the work of a seasoned author.

Maio 2, 2019, 2:40pm

George Singleton is a well-established Southern author who publishes short stories in small presses. Each story in Staff Picks is firmly rooted in the rural communities of the Carolina upstate, with occasional mentions of "Steepleburg," a pretty obvious stand-in for Spartanburg. With the exception of the title story, each story is narrated by a middle-aged or older white man, and most of them are easy-going guys who feel some regret for the way things have turned out.

The two most memorable stories were Staff Picks, in which a woman is determined to win a radio endurance contest for an RV, and Eclipse, in which a middle-aged recovering addict works a catering job at a community center named for a lynching victim. Things become surreal, although the reader is never quite certain how reliable a narrator the story has.

All in all, this is a solid collection of stories that reflect the location in which they are set.

Maio 4, 2019, 2:39pm

>80 RidgewayGirl: That one sounds so familiar, Kay. I think I read it.

>81 RidgewayGirl: Onto the WL it goes. I love stories with a keen sense of place.

Maio 4, 2019, 3:49pm

Beth, it's a pretty well-trodden path, that send up of wealthy lives in Manhattan. The nebbish main character is straight out of a Woody Allen movie, although Toby is less introspective or funny than the usual Allen character.

And George Singleton really does write my part of the world vividly.

Maio 4, 2019, 3:49pm

The Study of Animal Languages follows Ivan as he picks up his wife's father, who is definitely not on his meds, and chauffeurs him back to his house. Prue is seen as a shoo-in to be awarded tenure and she's giving a speech which is seen as the capstone of her career so far. Ivan feels that he's losing Prue, but can't put a finger on why or how, only that she seems removed from him somehow. When the lecture is not well-received and the subsequent house party goes even more badly, Ivan is left scrambling to keep everything together, even as he is losing it.

Lindsay Stern's debut novel is a look at communication -- between spouses and within families. It's also a send up of Academia and is often funny and absurd, but the focus remains on Ivan and his dealings with his own feelings as chaos swirls around him in the form of his distant wife, his all-too-present Father-in-Law and his niece, May, who is delightful, but also a lot of work for an over-extended, childless man who is losing his tightly held control over his environment. A Study of Animal Languages reminded me of Anne Tyler's writing. It was a slight but entertaining and well-written novel and I look forward to reading Stern's next novel.

Editado: Maio 5, 2019, 3:59pm

Maio 5, 2019, 8:42pm

>85 RidgewayGirl: Yup, I can really relate to the first one, especially.

Maio 6, 2019, 9:36am

>85 RidgewayGirl: I experienced a touch of stapelschudgefuhl on Friday. But only a touch. And not for long :-).

Editado: Maio 6, 2019, 10:29am

Marge and Rhian, I have mostly learned to ignore those feelings of stapelschuldgefühl, but every so often it sneaks up on me. Usually when I'm trying to fit it on the shelf.

Maio 6, 2019, 5:05pm

>65 RidgewayGirl: Great, and very enticing, review of Assumption, Kay! I'll definitely read it this summer, possibly as early as next month.

>85 RidgewayGirl: I may have to steal that for my 75 Books thread. Leichtlesbucheifersucht and stapelschuldgefühl are near constant states in my life.

Maio 6, 2019, 9:00pm

>85 RidgewayGirl: incredible how much facial expression you can get out of a dot and a short line!

Maio 7, 2019, 8:33am

Steal away, Darryl. I'll be interested in finding out what you think of Assumption and what Everett is doing with it. I'll be reading another of his books soon.

ws, Tom Gauld is a master.

Maio 7, 2019, 9:12am

>91 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay. Already stolen.

Maio 10, 2019, 8:45pm

>85 RidgewayGirl: Love it! :)

Maio 12, 2019, 9:25am

>84 RidgewayGirl: The Stern novel sounds interesting. I'll check to see if my library owns a copy.

>85 RidgewayGirl: Love it.

Maio 12, 2019, 12:50pm

avidmom, Tom Gauld understands readers.

Beth, The Study of Animal Languages was interesting. I'd be interested in finding out what you think of it.

Maio 15, 2019, 8:22am

From the beginning of His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet the reader knows that Roderick Macrae has been arrested for the murder of three of his neighbors in the tiny village of Culdie, in Scotland in 1869. Macrae admits his guilt and the witness statements are unequivocal. So while what follows may be considered a crime novel, it isn't a whodunnit, so much as a whydunnit. Why did Roddy Macrae do it? Was he driven to it or was he evil? Was he unusually intelligent or barely sentient? As the often conflicting testimonies and evidence is presented to the reader, we are left to come to our own conclusions.

In the small farming village of Culdie, where each family supports themselves off the small allotment of land attached to their crofts and where the landowner controls their entire lives, Lachlan Mackenzie becomes the village constable, upsetting the lives of the Macrae family with his invented transgressions, each which puts Roderick's father ever deeper into debt. But whether Roddy murdered MacKenzie and two of his children for that reason or some other reason is left for the reader to decipher. His Bloody Project is composed of witness statements, examinations of various professionals and Roddy's own accounting, written at the request of his lawyer. It's a fascinating look at life in rural Scotland in 1869, and of how difficult it is to determine motivation across the distance of time, even with ample historical record.

Maio 15, 2019, 10:17am

>96 RidgewayGirl: This sound interesting, Kay.

Maio 15, 2019, 11:55am

>96 RidgewayGirl: I really liked it when I read it and your great review brings back memories.

Maio 15, 2019, 12:04pm

Colleen, I'm surprised you haven't already read it! I thought I was the last of those who enjoy both literature and crime novels to read it.

Mary, it was so good. I can't figure out why it sat on my shelf so long except that it was given to me at the same time that several other books entered my house.

Maio 15, 2019, 4:59pm

Nice review of His Bloody Project, Kay. I enjoyed it as well.

Maio 15, 2019, 5:04pm

>96 RidgewayGirl: I saw that around all the time and never picked it up, for some reason. I will next time it crosses my path, though--that review definitely piqued my interest.

Maio 15, 2019, 5:18pm

>99 RidgewayGirl: I thought I was the last of those who enjoy both literature and crime novels to read it.

I had not read t either :) So... not the last. It does sound like something I should pick up... :)

Maio 15, 2019, 8:21pm

Darryl, of course I meant to read it back when it first made the Booker shortlist, but somehow this didn't happen.

Lisa and Annie, I hope you enjoy it when you do get to it. Such an interesting and ambiguous novel.

Maio 16, 2019, 5:47pm

>96 RidgewayGirl: Great review! I'm another who enjoyed this one, it was so interesting and different.

Maio 16, 2019, 5:58pm

>96 RidgewayGirl: All of the positive feedback about His Bloody Project is making me happy that I ordered a copy after reading your review, Kay. I will get to it next month, if not before.

Maio 16, 2019, 6:08pm

>96 RidgewayGirl: Nice comments, Kay. I don't know why I haven't gotten to this one, either.

Maio 17, 2019, 9:50am

Thanks for the push to read it, Vivienne!

Colleen and Beth, I'm relieved to find that I'm not the last person to read His Bloody Project after all.

Maio 17, 2019, 9:50am

In December 1972, Jean McConville is taken away from her apartment in front of her ten children by masked gunmen. She is never seen again. In March 1973, along with nine others including her sister, Delours Price places four car bombs in central London. She is arrested while trying to leave the country. During her stay in prison, she and her sister go on a hunger strike and are force-fed by the prison authorities.

Using the framework of these two women's lives, Patrick Radden Keefe explores the history of Northern Ireland during the years known as The Troubles, a thirty year span that began in the late 1960s and ended with the Good Friday Agreements of 1998. The Troubles are a complex and maddening part of a long conflict, but by structuring it around a single event, and two women, Keefe manages to control the focus of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. McConville was killed by the Provisional IRA, known as the Provos, and while usually the bodies of anyone murdered by them were left to be found as a warning to others, McConville's was not. The reasoning for that is unclear as is the reason for her murder. The attempt to unravel what happened to her involves learning about what daily life was like for the citizens of Belfast, what drew young people into the IRA and how the Provisional IRA functioned during those years and how it was that they came to decide on peace.

This is a superlatively good book. By keeping the focus on the two women, Keefe was able to give a solid history of the IRA during the years of The Troubles in a manageable and compelling way. Delours Price is a fascinating woman who was in the middle of the things for a long time. And the impact of and ambiguity around Jean McConville's disappearance, not the least what it did to her children, makes her story impossible to set aside.

Maio 17, 2019, 3:04pm

When Leni's father returns from Vietnam, he has changed. He has sudden bursts of rage which make it difficult for him to hold a job and keeps both Leni and her mother constantly making sure they aren't doing anything that might set him off. So when he decides that they will pack up and move to a small, isolated community in Alaska, they both agree. Life on a farmstead in Alaska is hard, but Leni makes a friend in the only other child her age at the school and she grows to love Alaska. But as the years progress, her father's paranoia and extremism increase, alienating everyone they know and the long winter nights make his rages worse. But what can Leni do when her mother refuses to leave?

This is the first novel I've read by Kristen Hannah and, while it was fine, it will probably be the last. While the setting was wonderful, the secondary characters were reliably one-note and didn't change over the course of the novel. And there was so much drama. Just tons of it. And then there would be more. But I can see why The Great Alone was a bestseller, I certainly kept turning the pages, long after I'd begun rolling my eyes with every new plot development.

Maio 17, 2019, 3:10pm

Say Nothing - you’re review makes think about this for audio. You got my attention, anyway.

Maio 17, 2019, 3:49pm

>108 RidgewayGirl: Still waiting for this from the library! Great review.

Maio 17, 2019, 4:28pm

Daniel, it's a fantastic book and probably well-suited for audio.

Charlotte, I look forward to your comments when you finally get a copy. I had a long wait for this one as well.

Maio 18, 2019, 10:12am

>108 RidgewayGirl: Another for the pile... I’m drowning in books.

Maio 18, 2019, 10:36am

>113 NanaCC: And isn't it wonderful? I do love my tbr.

Maio 18, 2019, 2:15pm

>108 RidgewayGirl: great review of this book. As I've mentioned too many times before on too many threads the Troubles were a sorry time in our history which I don't feel any compulsion to relive, but I can see how if I wasn't living in NI this sounds like a very good read that I'd no doubt enjoy. I used to read a lot of books about the Troubles when I was 'coming of age', as I was hungry to properly understand what it was all about.

Unfortunately, with the recent killing of journalist Lyra McKee, we have been thrust back into this pathetic world of the IRA. It is being widely debated whether the person who pulled the trigger was fully to blame, or whether his commanders in the Real IRA are the true killers, drafting in young kids with little prospects in rundown estates to carry out their dirty work. A good friend of mine was friends with Lyra and gave the eulogy at her funeral; I don't think he or Lyra's family have very much sympathy towards the person who pulled the trigger.

I'm curious - did Patrick Keefe take a sympathetic view towards Delours Price at all?

Maio 18, 2019, 3:09pm

>115 AlisonY: I thought his portrayal of Price was nuanced. She was very young and principled when she joined and a motivating factor was being attacked by loyalist paramilitaries when she was on a peace march while the RUC stood by and watched. Before that point she'd been convinced that change was best worked toward by peaceful means.

Now I'd like to read something about the RUC and the loyalist paramilitaries. I've gotten the suggestion of Rachel Seiffert's Afterwards as novel about a British soldier stationed there.

Maio 19, 2019, 6:59am

I really like Seiffert - Afterwards manages to speak about several colonial wars at once.

Have you come across the crime series by Adrian McKinty? The author grew up in Northern Ireland, and although the plots grow increasingly far-fetched (imho) as the series progresses, the sense of being constantly under threat (particularly as a Catholic RUC man) is very well done, I think. Plus there's some fun music writing too - a bit like Rebus (but better written).

Maio 19, 2019, 7:00am

-Oops - I should credit this recommendation as an LT 75er recommendation made to me!

Maio 19, 2019, 11:48am

>117 charl08: I'll look for his books, Charlotte.

Maio 19, 2019, 4:43pm

Bea and Dan are that most rare of literary couples, they are happily married. And Bea is happy. She's left her family behind and while she and Dan don't have much money, she loves her job as a therapist, their tiny flat and especially she loves Dan. Dan, who went to art school, is far less content with their life. He hasn't been able to create anything in some time as his tedious job as an estate agent means long hours and returning home in the evening drained. He convinces Bea that they should take their small savings, sublet their flat and go travel in Europe for a few months. He has a list of places he wants to see, but first they go to France where Alex, Bea's brother and only family member she cares about, runs a small hotel in the countryside.

But the hotel isn't what they thought it would be. For one thing, Alex isn't capable of running any sort of business, for another, it's almost entirely unfurnished. And there are apparently vipers in the attic, drawn there by the many mice. And this is where Bea and Dan's solid relationship begins to fray, because when Bea's parents arrive, Bea is tense and withdrawn, overwhelmed with interacting with her dysfunctional family and Dan is startled to discover that when Bea described her family as well-off, what she actually meant was very, very wealthy. And he begins to feel that Bea's peace of mind, the peace of mind she has from refusing to use a penny of that wealth, is paid for with his ability to do his art. When Alex disappears and the French police show up, all the fracture lines are laid bare.

No one writes about the dysfunctional families of the British upper crust quite like Sadie Jones. And The Snakes is perhaps her best novel so far. Both Bea and Dan are complex and sympathetic, even when they are in direct conflict. Dan, who was raised in a council flat in a rough part of London, has no defense against the casual luxuries of the wealthy. And Bea, raised in a stifling, love poor environment, treats that wealth with casual familiarity and distain. And those differences of outlook make what is going on with the police and Bea's family more difficult until the entire situation spirals out of control. The writing in The Snakes is very fine, but what really makes this novel worthwhile are Jones's razor-sharp observations.

Editado: Maio 19, 2019, 5:51pm

>120 RidgewayGirl: The Snakes sounds promising, so I've asked my library to buy it. You're responsible for an awful lot of my TBR list, you know.

Maio 20, 2019, 4:31am

>120 RidgewayGirl: oh, I love Sadie Jones. This sounds great - onto the Wishlist it goes.

Maio 20, 2019, 7:35am

Marge, thank you, I've had a great reading year, in large part because of people here telling me what to read next.

Alison, yay! Another Sadie Jones fan! Have you read Fallout?

Maio 20, 2019, 11:14am

>123 RidgewayGirl: no, I've not read Fallout yet. Is it up there with her best? I loved The Outcast, was a bit disappointed with The Uninvited Guests (felt it became a bit silly in the end), but enjoyed Small Wars very much indeed (I read it on holiday and it was a great holiday read).

Maio 20, 2019, 1:41pm

>124 AlisonY: Fallout takes place in the London theatre scene of the 60s, which I found fascinating. I still have Small Wars to read - I'm going to have to order a copy since I haven't run into it yet.

Maio 21, 2019, 11:02am

Great reviews of Say Nothing and The Snakes, Kay!

Maio 21, 2019, 11:26am

Thanks, Darryl!

Maio 21, 2019, 11:54am

I was in need of some lighter fare, in keeping with the Leichtlesbucheifersucht of >85 RidgewayGirl: and so picked up this next one. It was delightful.

In The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, Alexa and Drew meet cute when they are temporarily trapped in a hotel elevator together when the power goes out. She has snacks in her purse. He has a wedding to attend that he's dreading. It doesn't take long before he convinces Alexa to be his date to his ex-girlfriend's wedding. And they have a great time, so good that they begin a purposefully casual relationship, after all, she has a high powered job in Berkeley and he's a pediatrician in Santa Monica. She's black and wary of being hurt, he's white and told her how commitment-phobic he is when they first met.

This isn't an angsty novel and both Alexa and Drew are adults who are quick to find solutions and the problems that crop up are resolved. A romantic novel without too much in the way of things keeping the lovers apart might be boring, but Guillory writes lightly and lets her characters exist fully in their worlds. Alexa is funny and resilient, Drew is caring and willing to compromise. It's a fun book.

Maio 25, 2019, 6:04pm

I lost track of your part II so have just had a big catch up. Made a note of Second Person Singular, Say Nothing, and The Snakes.

Editado: Maio 26, 2019, 10:51am

>129 mabith: It's hard to keep up with all the threads. You've certainly chosen the best of my recent reading.

Maio 26, 2019, 12:10pm

Annie Ernaux's The Years belongs in that odd genre of auto-fiction, books that are based on the author's own life, but the events of the past have either been altered or the author concedes that their own memories are not necessarily accurate. With The Years, Ernaux takes her own life and memories as a way of telling the story of what life was like during her life, for herself, for women in France, and for France itself.

Beginning in the mid-1940s, the book begins with Ernaux's earliest memories, and with descriptions of family photos of herself. As her story moves forward, it becomes a universal story of a time and place, of what family dinners looked like, what school was like and how things changed over time, with lifestyles adapting to the availability of consumer goods, as the older folks died and so the Sunday dinner conversations moved on from the war to other subjects, like the events in Algeria or student uprisings.

This is a superbly constructed and immensely readable book. I did stop many times to look up names and events, but that was due to my lack of knowledge of French history and popular culture. It was so interesting to look at a time slightly different from my own (Ernaux belongs to my parents' generation) and at a country other than my own. Ernaux mixes the personal with the universal as she writes her way through the years of her life and the result is something greater than either a straight memoir or social history would have been.

Maio 27, 2019, 1:08pm

We Are All Good People Here: A Novel by Susan Rebecca White is the story of Eve and Daniella, who meet at a small, private all-female college in the 1960s. The two girls become instant best friends and the friendship transforms Eve, a debutante raised in a wealthy Atlanta household. Daniella is from the north, Jewish and liberal and Eve is immediately drawn to her views, taking them far further. As the years go by, their paths diverge as Eve becomes more and more radical, eventually joining a group similar to The Weathermen, while Daniella becomes a lawyer at a time when a woman's career is meant to be a pastime until she get married. But fate brings them back together again.

This is a book with tremendous promise. Eve's story alone, and how she went from obedient debutante to underground radical in hiding provides enough substance for a dozen books. And then there's Daniella's fierce determination to forge a career and have a family regardless of the opposition she faced. But all of this is lost in the sheer amount of time and number of events this novel attempts to encompass. Stretching from 1962, to when their own daughters begin university, there's simply too much to fit in one novel and somehow the most interesting bits, from what motivated Eve to join a radical group that flirted with terrorism and what she thought of it all, to how Daniella negotiated her professional life, working to be taken seriously in a Southern law firm, are glossed over in a single paragraph or omitted entirely, in favor of spending many pages describing the traditions of a sorority neither girl joined. The details were interesting, I enjoyed learning about repousse silver tea sets, but I wonder if those paragraphs might have been better used giving an example of how Daniella managed to make the men in her law firm take her seriously, or how she negotiated her pregnancy while working. Or if those paragraphs might have been better used showing how Eve felt about her open relationship or how she was drawn into the radical group and what she thought about it.

Both characters, as well as their daughters are never given the space to become complex and breathing individuals. Daniella's daughter is the most well-rounded character, but as she mainly reacts to the big events around here, from date rape of a friend, to another friend's same sex relationship, she remains a way to show changes in society than a person in her own right. The novel is well-written and when White does go into detail, it's clear she knows what she's writing about. And there was always something happening. But in the end the novel simply tried to do too much and ended up being a frustrating outline of something better.

Maio 27, 2019, 7:21pm

Just caught up from being a very long way behind and have enjoyed reading all your reviews. So many great books. I'm especially interested in A Lucky Man since I'm always looking for good short story collections, but so many others you've read sound appealing too.

Maio 27, 2019, 9:09pm

Gary, A Lucky Man is excellent. And it's good to find someone else who thinks short stories are worth seeking out.

Maio 27, 2019, 9:27pm

>120 RidgewayGirl: Great review of The Snakes. I'm adding it to my list and I've also taken a book bullet for Fallout.

Maio 28, 2019, 10:43am

>120 RidgewayGirl: The Snakes, I hate snakes, but this book sounds quite interesting. I’m adding to my wishlist.

Maio 28, 2019, 12:46pm

Vivienne, I think you might really like Sadie Jones's writing. Her most well-known novel is The Outcast.

Colleen, there are not too many snakes in it.

Editado: Maio 28, 2019, 4:32pm

It's 1793, and Stockholm is not a kind place for anyone lacking in money, name or power. When a badly mutilated body is found in a local pond, really an open sewer, it falls to Mikel Cardell, a veteran who lost an arm in battle, to pull it out. Cecil Winge is asked by the soon-to-be-ousted head of the police to investigate and he quickly enlists Cardell's help. Winge once lived in a fine house with his wife, but since his tuberculosis became a certain death warrant, he lives alone in a single room. The two men are an odd pair but they work well together. Unraveling who the corpse is, who killed him and why poses a difficult challenge to the men.

This is such a solidly plotted, researched and written novel. It was a delight to read a book that had everything it needed, from a vivid setting and characters who were fully realized and complex, to the plot, which held together tightly. The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag is the kind of well-executed historical thriller that is far too rare. I was invested in it from the opening pages to the final paragraph.

Thank you, Lois (avaland) for the recommendation.

Maio 29, 2019, 10:21am

Glad you enjoyed Les Années, Annie Ernaux it its sitting on my TBR shelf. Last year I read La Place, Annie Ernaux which was also very autobiographical.

Maio 29, 2019, 12:34pm

>138 RidgewayGirl: Lois put this on my wishlist too. I’m happy to see your positive comments.

Maio 29, 2019, 12:36pm

>138 RidgewayGirl: That one sounds really good. Did you read Perfume (have we talked about this already?)

Maio 29, 2019, 12:54pm

>138 RidgewayGirl: Great review! I really liked how grim and murky it was, so much of historical fiction seems to avoid those bits.

Maio 29, 2019, 1:21pm

Bas, I would like to have read the Ernaux in French. I don't always like auto-fiction, but Ernaux is very good at it.

Colleen, Lois knew what she was talking about. It's very, very good.

Joyce, I hadn't thought of the similarities with Perfume, but they are there. I read Perfume years ago and should read it again.

Charlotte, Stockholm is so smelly and grim in this book. I loved the way the author never glossed over the sheer filthiness of everything.

Maio 30, 2019, 4:31pm

Good books keep showing up here. Noting, especially, your review of The Years (or Les Années).

Jun 1, 2019, 3:04pm

Is there anything strange about any of this? I don't think so. It's just another day in the Middle East, a bomb or suicide vest going off somewhere, leaving in its wake dozens of broken bodies and a shattered marketplace in a poor neighborhood.

Dawn: Stories is a collection of short stories by Selahattin Demirtas, a Turkish human rights lawyer and politician who is currently a political prisoner, and this shows in this collection. Each story illuminates an aspect of life in Turkey, with a strong emphasis on how women function in Turkish society. The second story, Seher, was so bleak, the titular character so unable to have any agency in her own life, that I had to put the book aside for a few days. But most of the stories, although they often center on the difficult lives of women living in poverty, were hopeful, with each character making decisions and living as fully as circumstances allow. Dimirtas has a lot of love for his troubled country. So while the stories aren't literary masterpieces, they do illuminate the vibrant culture and personal resilience of a wide array of Turkish citizens.

Jun 3, 2019, 2:01pm

>143 RidgewayGirl: Agree completely about the filthiness.

Editado: Jun 3, 2019, 4:44pm

Arthur Alter is in a tight spot. He took the visiting professor job at Danforth College, convinced he'd quickly be hired full-time and be given tenure. Despite moving his family across the country and derailing his wife's more successful career, he never moves into a permanent posting, instead being given fewer classes to teach over the years, so that now he's down to one. His children live far away and don't speak to him. And his wife may have had money when she died, but she left it all to the children. Maybe because Arthur coincidentally started an affair the same day Francine received her diagnosis? Arthur prefers not to think about that. He's got a bigger problem. When they first moved to St. Louis, they bought a house in keeping with Arthur's aspirations, and not his circumstances, which are that he's making a little less each year. And his girlfriend is thinking of taking a better paying job elsewhere. But Arthur can fix it all if he can get his son and daughter to come and visit. He'll convince them to give him the money they inherited from their mother. And once he has the money to pay off the mortgage, he's sure he can convince his girlfriend to turn down the new job and move in with him.

The only problem with this plan is that Arthur has once again over-estimated his powers of persuasion, his girlfriend's willingness to do what he wants and his job prospects, while under-estimating the sheer animosity his children hold for him.

Yes, this is another WMFuN*, that perennial staple of American literature. But The Altruists has some redeeming features. It's set in St. Louis and not New York City. Arthur may be the classic WMFuN protagonist, being both self-involved and oblivious to the harm he causes, but Andrew Ridker isn't asking the reader to side with Arthur, in fact he goes out of the way to clearly show the harm Arthur does. And it's well written, with a relaxed solidity to the writing that is surprising in a debut novel. No, I never warmed completely to Arthur and his equally self-involved off-spring, but no matter how I tried, I was never able to not care about what happened to them.

* White Male Fuck-up Novel

Jun 3, 2019, 3:32pm

>147 RidgewayGirl: Gosh, I didn't know there was a name for that....

Jun 3, 2019, 4:41pm

>148 avaland: But isn't it the perfect name? I've read probably hundreds of these over the years and only realized how ubiquitous they are once someone had helpfully labelled them.

Jun 3, 2019, 5:02pm

Jun 3, 2019, 5:53pm

Melissa and Michael are the perfect couple. Attractive and well-matched, they are the couple their friends would say is the most likely to be together forever. They have two lovely children and they've just moved into a house of their own. But the new house, far in the outer reaches of London's suburbs, means that Michael has a long commute each day and returns home in the evening tired, and Melissa is finding that caring for two small children isn't something she's managing well on her own. She'd thought she'd be able to do some freelance work during nap time, but nap time isn't guaranteed and even when the baby agrees to a nap, Melissa has trouble getting work done in the limited time. And the house doesn't feel welcoming. There's mold in odd corners and her daughter's skin always seems dry.

Their good friends, Damien and Stephanie are also entering into a year of disquiet. Damien's estranged father has died and while he is sure he feels nothing, he is far more affected than he believes he is. And his own unsettled feelings are causing him to feel stifled by Stephanie's devotion to family life. Which is not something she has any patience for.

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize, Ordinary People by Diana Evans explores the marriages of two black couples living in London in the year that was marked by the election of Barack Obama and the death of Michael Jackson. Evans allows her characters to inhabit marriages as stressed and imperfect as those in any of the many, many novels about white British couples, she's not interested in writing about anyone behaving in an exemplary fashion. There's a lot of substance here, but I was left more interested in the marriage that received far less attention. Evans definitely nails the different ways two people living in the same place can manage to not talk to each other. I was left feeling as though I never really understood any of the characters, but the blame for that is certainly not entirely the author's.

Jun 3, 2019, 10:58pm

>151 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, I've taken a bullet on that one. It sounds like a book I would enjoy.

Jun 4, 2019, 8:55am

Kay - You are having a fantastic year of reading! So many BBs here. I am waiting for Say Nothing from the library and will try to get to Ordinary People this month.

The Wolf and the Watchman and The Snakes also sound great. I love good historical mysteries, and quite enjoyed the Jones novel that I read.

Thanks for the kitten advice, too.

Editado: Jun 4, 2019, 10:51am

>152 VivienneR: I'm interested in finding out what you think about it when you do read it.

>153 BLBera: Unfortunately, in my house, there are no kittens, only cats and lots of them. Here are two of them enjoying naps out on the deck.

Jun 4, 2019, 11:24am

>154 RidgewayGirl: They are so pretty. I'm partial to gray cats.

Jun 4, 2019, 11:37am

>154 RidgewayGirl:

Oh life is GOOD. Yessiree, life is purty purty purrrry good.

That first cat has the face of a seasoned pirate in retirement.

Jun 4, 2019, 4:20pm

Beth, Mercy is a dilute tortie and has bright amber orange eyes. She and my son are in love with each other.

Lola, he his my old man. Were he human, I would not be surprised to find him in Key West, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and untidy hair, telling stories to the tourists for beers.

Jun 5, 2019, 11:53am

>147 RidgewayGirl: LOL. I hadn’t heard that expression either.

Your cats look like they have the good life. How many do you have?

Jun 5, 2019, 11:56am

>154 RidgewayGirl: Unfortunately, in my house, there are no kittens, only cats and lots of them
Famous last words at our house. We were doing OK with four senior-ish cats, but I missed having a kitten, so now we have one of those too (though at 11 months her kitten-hood is receding quickly). To her credit, she's been delightful, and all that energy is marvelous to be around.

Editado: Jun 5, 2019, 12:44pm

Colleen, now that you know what they're called, you'll find out how very many WMFuNs you've been reading.

And we have 3.5 cats more than is ideal. That is, we have five. For years and years, we had two, my old man (see above) and my daughter's reclusive calico. Then, in a period of a few months, I inherited a cat, then the neighbors showed up with an emaciated kitten who had been wandering the neighborhood for at least a week and asked us to take her (this is Mercy, the dilute tortie) and then my daughter found a kitten on the side of the interstate. My husband, who was not allowed a pet as a child, is very pleased with the current state of things.

Lisa, are the older cats very disapproving? Mine disapproved deeply of the first kitten, until the second kitten arrived and they discovered Mercy is fine. They are slowly warming to our youngest, emphasis on slowly.

Jun 5, 2019, 1:23pm

Ouch. You've hit me with Ordinary People, Kay. Nice review!

Editado: Jun 5, 2019, 1:29pm

>160 RidgewayGirl: The older cats all disapprove to varying degrees. None of them were too rough with her—I think she's just so sweet she deflected it—though our crazy lady tortie hisses at her if she gets closer than two feet. But she hates everyone. The baby looooves our big fat other tabby, Francis, who puts up with her for the most part, sometimes playing a bit too rough because he's not good at playing, but apparently he's not too threatening because she keeps coming back for more. The little sickly black cat avoids her affections because he's really delicate these days and avoids all the others, and the tough old ginger man has probably whomped her a few times because she's super respectful of him.

It makes me wish I'd kept a second kitten from that litter for her to play with, but that would be six cats. And what's done is done. She likes to play with us, anyway—she fetches like a dog, which is endlessly endearing.

Jun 5, 2019, 9:13pm

When Sadie's brother, Shane, dies of a opioid overdose, Sadie's family is both confused and suspicious. Shane would never have committed suicide, which is what the police think, and Shane's wife is acting oddly. So Sadie starts looking around. Haley is a part of the Pettit family, a long line of petty criminals and drug addicts. She's so eager to leave the small town of Blackwater, Kansas, where everyone knows exactly who her family is and her mother has drifted back into addiction. She just needs to save enough money to leave. She's cleaning the house of the local bigwig and spending time with his son, who is directionless and eager to spend time with her.

The setting is the draw of The Wolf Wants In, a small rural community where the only available jobs are manual and low-paying, where the opioid epidemic rages and anyone who has the means leaves. And the plot is well developed, with alternating chapters switching between Sadie and Haley. The Haley chapters take place several months earlier and Laura McHugh does a fine job of raising the levels of tension equally in each of the timelines. I was set to rate this book very highly, but there's an abrupt end where the mystery is wrapped up in an odd sort of outline, all the bad guys confessing and all the good guys, who had previously been struggling with some serious issues, all received happy endings. I would have much preferred a longer book, better pacing and and an ending in keeping with the tone of the rest of the novel.

Jun 5, 2019, 9:16pm

>161 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl.

>162 lisapeet: I agree that five cats is the maximum possible number of cats.

Jun 5, 2019, 10:20pm

>163 RidgewayGirl:
Sadie's family is both confused and suspicious. Shane would never have committed suicide, which is what the police think, and Shane's wife is acting oddly.

Hmmm. That sounds like an odd premise to me. I live in Vancouver, and we've had a huge number of opioid deaths (it's not always because of crap economy, toxic environment, and no prospects), and suicide or nefarious activity are almost never in the mix. These deaths are usually accidental overdoses. Sadie's family didn't think "we told him that shit had fentanyl in it"?

Jun 6, 2019, 3:01am

>163 RidgewayGirl: Oh, I just added this one to the wishlist because of the lithub summer listing - might think again!

I do love the cat pictures - they look so mellow and peaceful - I'm sure they're not always like that!

Editado: Jun 6, 2019, 5:52am

Jun 8, 2019, 11:07am

Joyce, I expect that there is a lot that is questionable in this book if one thinks about it. At one point, a bottle of pills is found and the police have the contents analyzed within the same paragraph. But I do appreciate that this issue is beginning to be touched on in fiction.

Charlotte, there was a lot of promise to The Wolf Wants In and I was eager to read it. It's so disappointing when the author seems to run out of steam before the end of the book, as though all the energy was given to the first fifty pages and the rest had to be cobbled together in a hurry.

Jun 8, 2019, 12:55pm

He was done with lots of things, he told her. Restaurants, candy, newspapers, parties, cars, airplanes, living in houses. He slept in hotels and traveled by train.

What he needed was to fall in love with another woman, but she saw he was too vain. Ordinary happiness would be a dent in his armor. Happiness was everywhere, like dropped coins. You might feel lucky to pick it up and put it in your pocket, but what could it really buy you?

To be haunted? That set you apart.

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken is an odd book, full of whimsey and colorful characters. Beginning with the discovery of Bertha Truitt, lying in the cemetery who, upon being revived, makes a new life for herself in the small Massachusetts town she landed upon, opening a candlepin bowling alley, building an octagonal house and marrying the doctor who tended her. That bowling alley becomes a refuge for outcasts and a place where women can be together.

Nobody believed that this so-called Nahum Truitt was a child of Bertha's. The height of him, the denunciations, the way he talked. You could die of boredom. You longed to.

The great strength of this novel is McCracken's writing. By the time I'd finished it, there were dozens of post-it notes sticking out from between the pages, marking out remarkable descriptions and gorgeous sentences. But the beautiful writing did not hide that there were too many characters. Every time I began to understand a character and to fall into their story, they were gone, often forever, lost in the great flood of quirky characters and weird situations. There was never anything or anyone to hold onto. There's no question that the writing is extraordinarily good, but it turns out that even that is no substitution for plot and character development.

He had inherited his predecessor's office as it was, with the books and the ottoman, the manual typewriter that reminded him of a skeleton in a natural history museum--a small dinosaur, one so unfortunately shaped it existed mostly as food for larger dinosaurs. An aquatic animal, probably, with an alphabetic spine.

Jun 10, 2019, 7:46am

A typewriter as dinosaur? That one has me a little puzzled. Post-its in a book sound like a good sign though.

Jun 10, 2019, 11:45am

Charlotte, there are such gorgeous descriptions and lovely sentences in Bowlaway. It's just that the story didn't hold together and I do think it might have been better as a collection of inter-linked short stories.

Jun 10, 2019, 11:45am

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is not the sort of book I'd normally pick up, given that the format of the entire novel is that of an interview with the various members and relations of the fictitious band. But with its inclusion in the Tournament of Books Summer Reading Challenge, I found myself with a copy of the book in my hands.

Following the meteoric rise and inevitable dissolution of a rock 'n roll band in the 1970s, it's the story of large personalities clashing, prodigious quantities of drugs, the inevitable complications of sex and fame, all wrapped up with a cast of colorful but well-intentioned people. Daisy is a talented, if untrained, singer who wants to write her own songs. She's paired with the band of the moment, The Six, for a duet written by that band's lead singer and leader. While they don't work well together, as Billy is used to running things and Daisy is determined to have a say in how things are done, they do produce better music together than apart. Daisy's gone well beyond recreational in her drug use and Billy has been through rehab and is determined to stay clean for the sake of his young family. Meanwhile, one guitarist is pining for the keyboard player, while the other is chafing under Billy's sometimes ham-handed leadership. And the drummer? He's just doing his job.

This is the kind of book that makes being stuck in an airport or on a long drive a pleasant experience. It's the kind of book designed for vacation reading. It's utterly involving but also easy to set aside and pick up again. There's no deeper message or subtext, just a fun book about rock 'n roll. And there's even a Spotify playlist to keep you company as you read.

Jun 10, 2019, 12:53pm

Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg tells the story of Lydia, who longs to experience more of the world than the Southie neighborhood of Boston. She gets a job in a department store across the river, where she eventually meets and marries Henry Wickett, an odd man who has an idea of how to cure people. And so Wickett's Remedy is born.

Wickett's Remedy is a novel about the Spanish influenza epidemic that hit the United States during the First World War, and about a young woman who is determined to do what she can to help care for influenza patients despite her lack of medical training. Lydia is a fantastic character to follow as she works to adapt to whatever circumstances she finds herself in and the story is superbly researched. Goldberg also plays with the format of the novel, adding sidenotes where various characters comment on the events taking place, as well as articles, vignettes and even a secondary storyline taking place at the end of each chapter. Goldberg's writing is very good and the way she plays with structure fits well with the novel as a whole. I look forward to reading more by her.

I'll confess that I've had this book on my tbr since 2009 and it only was pulled off of the shelf because the author was in town signing her new novel, Feast Your Eyes. I really need to get better at reading the older members of my tbr as I am usually pleased with the contents.

Jun 10, 2019, 1:27pm

Nice review of Wickett's Remedy, Kay. I also own that book, so I'll move it a bit higher on my TBR list.

Jun 10, 2019, 9:13pm

>172 RidgewayGirl:
Where did you find this one? Sounds interesting, actually. I'm in vacation-mode reading a lot these days (though I don't do as much of it as my brain needs). I'm interested in this because as a want-to-be-novelist, I have an idea for a 1970s hedonistic novel in my notes. Different from this one, but I still like to see what else is out there.

Jun 10, 2019, 9:36pm

>173 RidgewayGirl: I read Wickett’s Remedy year’s ago, Kay, and I remember enjoying it. I’m glad to see that you did too.

Jun 10, 2019, 10:48pm

>175 Nickelini: Joyce, this one is everywhere. I've even seen it in Costco.

>176 NanaCC: Colleen, it was good and I'm very happy to have her newest novel, Feast Your Eyes, on my tbr.

Jun 11, 2019, 6:25am

I remember reading Bee Season a million years ago when it first came out and really liking it. I've been meaning to read something else of hers since then—thanks for the reminder.

Editado: Jun 11, 2019, 3:55pm

After graduating from Vassar, American poet Elizabeth Bishop went to France with two college friends. In Paris, 7 a.m. author Liza Wieland imagines what might have happened to Bishop as a young woman in Paris in 1937. In the novel, Bishop forms relationships of various kinds with a young German woman who is in Paris because Berlin is no longer safe for her and an older woman who lost her own daughter some years earlier. There's a lot going on in this novel, from Nazis, to lesbians, to an amputated hand, to rescuing babies, to hanging out with everyone from Sylvia Beach to Marianne Moore. Yet it never feels over-packed. Wieland's writing is almost dreamy and stays focused on how Bishop perceives what's happening around her, rather than what is actually happening, which puts some of the events at a sort of remove, even as they're happening, while intensifying others.

There is a sense of slowly rising danger in this novel, not for Bishop and her American friends, who return to the US safely, although not without having been changed, but for the Europeans they encounter. Not all the Germans in France are Nazis, some are Germans who have found Germany unsafe for a variety of reasons. And while the heart of the story centers on secretly moving Jewish babies into the safety of a Catholic convent in Paris, the reader remains aware of what tenuous protection that will prove to be.

There are a number of novels out there imagining the details of the lives of famous literary and historical personages and a disproportionate number of them take place in Paris. But Paris, 7 a.m. is different enough and written so well as to be well worth reading.

Jun 11, 2019, 5:34pm

>178 lisapeet: That's pretty much exactly what Daniel said about Bee Season. I'll have to keep an eye out for a copy. But I've got a signed copy of her newest book on my shelf to read soon.

Jun 12, 2019, 5:49am

>179 RidgewayGirl: Hmm. May have to keep this one in mind, if the piles get low.

Jun 12, 2019, 9:36am

>180 RidgewayGirl: I loved Bee Season. I don’t think I realized at the time that it was by the same author. Pre-LT, so I guess I missed the link. I listened to Wickett’s Remedy and read Bee Season.

Jun 12, 2019, 2:48pm

Kay - Great reviews - Wickett's Remedy and Paris 7 a.m. sound especially good. Onto the list they go. I thought Wickett's Remedy looked familiar - I'll have to check to see if it is in my pile of uncatalogued books.

Jun 12, 2019, 5:04pm

>181 avaland: It was excellent. If you do come across a copy, I recommend grabbing it.

>182 NanaCC: How did the audio version of Wickett's Remedy handle the sidenotes and the notes at the end of each chapter? There was an author's note added to my paperback stating that she'd changed some of the final chapters in the novel from the hardcover version. It would be interesting to compare them.

>183 BLBera: I hope you do already have a copy, Beth. I'd like to find out what you think about it.

Jun 12, 2019, 5:15pm

>184 RidgewayGirl: I can’t remember how they were handled, Kay. Although I do seem to remember them. I listened to it the year it came out, so it was a long time ago. I think there were quiet voices, but not 100% sure.

Jun 12, 2019, 6:09pm

Kay, I was on Amazon yesterday ordering a volume of criticism on Atwood which has been on my wishlist for years. While there I looked around to see what other criticism might be available (one has to sift through so much to find it...) and found this: "White Male Nostalgia in Contemporary North American Literature." I thought you might find it amusing. It covered work by several authors including Atwood. I haven't given much thought whether it could also be a sub-genre :-)

Jun 12, 2019, 7:05pm

Wickett's Remedy sounds really interesting, and I like the sound of the structure of the book. The Wolf and the Watchman also sounds really good and exactly the sort of thing I'd enjoy. My reading list expands every time I visit your thread.

Editado: Jun 16, 2019, 12:46pm

>19 lisapeet:: I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Bishop so Paris. 7 a.m. sounds really intriguing.

Jun 16, 2019, 11:27am

>186 avaland: Ok, that's funny. I bet there are thousands of examples of this.

>187 valkyrdeath: My reading this year has been very good. And I would not have read The Wolf and the Watchman without avaland's review.

>188 janeajones: She did have a fascinating life, Jane. I read her poem Paris, 7 a.m. and it made me want to look at more of her work.

Jun 20, 2019, 4:33pm

Conversations with Friends is about Frances, an Irish student and spoken-word poet who performs with her best friend, Bobbi. She and Bobbi had had a relationship when they were both teenagers, but now they're just friends, although it's an intense relationship. One night, after a performance, they meet Melissa, an established photographer, who invites them home with her to discuss a possible article about them. From there, they are quickly entangled with Melissa and her husband, an actor. While the outgoing and opinionated Bobbi forms a quick friendship with Melissa, Frances is drawn to Nick. The shifting relationships and accompanying emotions are a challenge for Frances, who is also dealing with the unreliability of her own alcoholic father.

This is a novel about relationships and Sally Rooney really nails the ebb and flow of intense friendship, especially one complicated by an early romantic relationship. She's insightful about the emotions involved in falling in love when one is both young and doing one's best to not admit to any sort of emotional entanglement. This is a brilliantly written book about some very flawed people. It reminded me of Eimear McBride's The Lesser Bohemians, a book I adored. I'm glad her next novel is already out so that I don't have to wait to read more by this gifted author.

Jun 20, 2019, 5:12pm

>190 RidgewayGirl: Nice comments, Kay. I loved Normal People but still have this one to look forward to.

And I just finished Ordinary People, which I see that you loved as well. Evans did a wonderful job with complex characters and relationships, I thought. And her portrayal of London was amazing.

Jun 20, 2019, 6:07pm

>191 BLBera: Beth, the thing that I liked most about Ordinary People was that it was a novel in which the main characters were just living their lives. They weren't representative of anything or forced to illustrate a larger message. Just flawed people leading messy lives.

Jun 21, 2019, 1:55am

Nice review of Conversations with Friends, Kay. I hope to get to Normal People next month, before the Booker Prize longlist is announced, and I'll move The Lesser Bohemians higher on my TBR list.

Jun 29, 2019, 3:08pm

Then, the next morning, we do something entirely predictable, at least for people like us--foreign but not entirely so--which is to play "Graceland" over and over as we cross Memphis into Graceland, trying to figure out where the Mississippi Delta is, exactly, and why it might shine like a national guitar, or if the lyrics even say "national guitar." The boy thinks it's "rational" guitar, but I don't think he has it right. Our entrance, played against the background of the song, has an epic quality, but of the quiet sort. Like a war being lost silently but with resilience.

A family of four sets out on a road trip from New York to the southeastern corner of Arizona, where the Apaches made their last free home. The drive is leisurely, a last family vacation before they split, the man to a job in Arizona, where he will live with his son, the woman and her daughter returning to New York. As they travel, they explore the history of the end of freedom for the last indigenous tribes of America, and the woman has an added concern; she had been helping asylum seekers and immigrants in New York as a translator and she hopes to find two girls who have disappeared for their desperate mother. The girls were making the desperate journey from central America to her when they vanished.

Lost Children Archive is a story about family, about the troubled history of the United States and about the disaster of our southern border. There's a dreamy, elegiac quality to Valeria Luiselli's writing that had me rereading paragraphs as I went. It's a gorgeous book and I think its one we'll still be reading decades from now.

Jun 29, 2019, 10:14pm

Great review of Lost Children Archive, Kay. I hope that it's chosen for this year's Booker Prize longlist, so that I can read it this summer, although your comments about it have ensured that I'll get to it soon if it doesn't.

Jun 30, 2019, 7:54am

>194 RidgewayGirl: Hmmph, it never fails that the book I benevolently lend out is the next book I REALLY WANT TO READ. Well, hopefully I'll get it back someday.

Jun 30, 2019, 11:19am

>195 kidzdoc: Darryl, it's sure to show up on a lot of prize lists. I'd read another of her novels, The Story of My Teeth and it was so completely different. This appears to be the first book she's written in English - Luiselli was born in Mexico and spent her life in several different countries. An interesting bit of trivia is that she's married to Álvaro Enrigue, who wrote Sudden Death.

>196 lisapeet: Lisa, I ended up moving all the books I want to read soon into a bookcase in the bedroom. Less chance of them being spotted by an interested visitor that way. On the other hand, I'm reading a book now (Black Leopard, Red Wolf) that I poached off of my husband's bedside table. He knows where to find it.

Jun 30, 2019, 4:01pm

In First Execution, a retired high school teacher from Naples, now living in Rome discovers that a former pupil was arrested on suspicion of terrorism. After her release, he visits her and she makes an odd request -- that he retrieve a specific book from an apartment.

In First Execution, author Domenico Starnone considers abandoning a new novel he's just begun, then decides to continue it, with a few changes. Later, a contentious encounter inspires him with a different way to proceed with the story.

This is an odd and utterly fantastic book. Starnone alternates between a novel and the author's difficulties in writing that novel. Which should make Stasi's tale feel less real, but despite the way the author alters the plot as he goes along, it all works. I've read books that go meta, but none as effective and interesting as this one.

Jun 30, 2019, 6:40pm

>198 RidgewayGirl:

Oh, a Europa Edition that's "utterly fantastic," and Italian as well. Sold.

Jun 30, 2019, 8:34pm

>199 Nickelini: The three novels by Domenico Starnone that are translated into English are all Europa Editions. I'm hoping for more to be translated soon.

Jul 1, 2019, 3:41am

>194 RidgewayGirl: Not sure that I was such a fan - I thought that her long non-fiction essay covered the same themes but in a more powerful way. I'd be really interested to hear what you thought of it though! (Tell me how it ends)

Jul 1, 2019, 12:41pm

Great comments on Lost Children Archive, Kay. I thought it deserved to be on the Woman's Fiction Prize short list, but oh well. I did find her writing clunky in places; I thought she overdid lists, but it is one that has stuck with me.

Your comments on the Starnone have intrigued me. I tend to like metafiction, and this sounds pretty interesting. I'll have to check it out.

Jul 1, 2019, 2:54pm

>194 RidgewayGirl: Thats Paul Simons Graceland I take it, perhaps his finest hour. I am not a great fan its all bit too precious for me. Enjoyed your review of Lost Children Archive

Editado: Jul 4, 2019, 10:34am

>194 RidgewayGirl: All right, that one is going on my wishlist, although it might actually mostly be my love of Paul Simon that influenced me there. (I always assumed, by the way, that National must be a make or brand of guitars. Presumably of an especially shiny kind? Darn it, I may feel compelled to actually look it up now.)

ETA: OK, I did look it up. And these are, indeed, extremely shiny.

Jul 5, 2019, 9:45pm

I'm back from all the vacations -- a week on Edisto Island, a wedding on Tybee Island and a few days in central NJ to see the in-laws. It's good to be home.

>201 charl08: Charlotte, I hadn't known about Tell Me How it Ends. Interesting. While it wasn't a novel that stuck too closely to realism, I thought the writing was very good. On the drive between NJ and SC, I read a long article by William T. Vollmann in this month's Harper Magazine about what is happening on our southern border and it was likewise very powerful.

>202 BLBera: It did deserve to be on the Women's Fiction Prize shortlist, but I expect it to show up on plenty of other award shortlists this year.

>203 baswood: Bas, for its flaws, it belongs in any song list one uses while traveling in the American South. The other song that features in the novel is David Bowie's Space Oddity.

>204 bragan: Betty, I did not even know that "national guitar" referred to a brand.

Editado: Jul 6, 2019, 5:47am

>205 RidgewayGirl: I started reading a report from the medical team that went in to inspect some of the migrant children's conditions - just awful, I had to stop as I was reading it at work and it was making me too upset to be useful.
Luiselli writes about how she worked with students to set up a group in New York working for refugee children. It's impressive stuff.

It never occurred to me that Paul Simon was doing anything but talk nonsense during those songs (despite knowing them pretty well as I only had about 3 tapes and that was one of them!) Weird how the brain works.

Jul 6, 2019, 8:45am

>206 charl08: Simon is a very deliberate, fairly literary, songwriter. I doubt any of the choices he makes are just about the way the words sound, and the National Guitar imagery is representative of that: a very American brand, a country music staple, and reflective like a body of water.

Luiselli had a very good article in a recent New Yorker about Wild West reenactments and reconstituted ghost towns, and her reaction to the phenomenon as someone not of U.S. origin.
Este tópico foi continuado por RidgewayGirl Reads in 2019 -- Part Three.