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Improvement (2017)

por Joan Silber

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
3571973,645 (3.73)24
"One of our most gifted writers of fiction returns with a bold and piercing novel about a young single mother living in Harlem, her eccentric aunt, and the decisions they make that have unexpected implications for the world around them. Reyna knows her relationship with Boyd isn't perfect, yet she sees him through a three-month stint at Riker's Island, their bond growing tighter. Kiki, now settled in the East Village after a youth that took her to Turkey and other far- off places--and loves--around the world, admires her niece's spirit but worries that motherhood to four-year-old Oliver might complicate a difficult situation. Little does she know that Boyd is pulling Reyna into a smuggling scheme, across state lines, violating his probation. When Reyna takes a step back, her small act of resistance sets into motion a tapestry of events that affect the lives of loved ones and strangers around them. A novel that examines conviction, connection, repayment, and the possibility of generosity in the face of loss, Improvement is as intricately woven together as Kiki's beloved Turkish rugs, as colorful as the tattoos decorating Reyna's body, with narrative twists and turns as surprising and unexpected as the lives all around us. The Boston Globe said "No other writer can make a few small decisions ripple across the globe, and across time, with more subtlety and power," and Improvement is Silber's most shining achievement"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 19 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
This "novel" is really more a set of short stories loosely tied together by a minor character in one appearing as the main character in the next. They are also thematically related as the characters are essentially making improvements to their lives by making rational decision about relationships.

I enjoyed each story and found the writing to be outstanding and characters to be very authentic and well developed. I could see the attempt in the last story to wrap things up and weave the stories together. It didn't really work. Instead I found the ending wanting something more that was just missing. Still a very worthwhile read. ( )
  technodiabla | Aug 15, 2022 |
After finishing this I skimmed some reviews and found that it was frequently compared to the Islamic carpets that have a recurring place in the novel. Intricate interwoven themes, just as in the carpet patterns. Tapestry was another descriptor.

Both of those analogies seem too heavy to me. There is a certain light, shimmery quality to the prose. Gossamer is too fine, though. Think of braided strands of silver and gold.

In structure the book is like a series of interconnected stories, but the central core is actually more solid than that. Events radiate forward and backward in time from a decision made by a young woman to stop short of participating in her boyfriend’s harebrained get-rich (or at least less poor) scheme.

I was captivated by the first sentences, and I remained entranced until the end. Silber is a gifted author, and it’s easy to understand why the book won the National Book Critics Circle award and the Pen/Faulkner.

(P.S. I can’t seem to escape from references to Richmond VA in my reading. I expected it with Razorblade Tears, but who would have thought that a book set in Nova Scotia would have a Richmond connection? Then this book, which is set primarily in NYC and Turkey, with scenes in Germany and upstate NY, also features a lengthy segment in Richmond. Go figure.)

(P.P.S. Judith, I determined that I added this to my TBR the day after you posted your review - so thanks!) ( )
  BarbKBooks | Aug 15, 2022 |
I am the kind of person that wonders about many of the side characters in the books I read. If I am reading nonfiction it is the worst because I will start researching actual people not central to the story, tumbling down Google wormholes, realizing hours in that it is 2:00 am and that I have to work in a few hours. So this book's structure worked for me. There is a central event which impacts many people followed by vignettes featuring many of those minor characters who wee affected. We seeing how their lived were changed by two decisions, each made in an instant, one fateful night. I thought that was very well done, and I found the featured side characters mostly fascinating. In fact the only character I did not find fascinating at all was the main character, Reyna, whose actions set off everything else. I don't think she was a badly drawn character. The character development throughout is excellent. I was impressed with how Silber could give me only tiny slivers of people's lives and yet I as a reader felt I really got to know them. Reyna was well drawn. I see women like her all the time. Reyna is basic. I lost a bit of interest when she was front and center, but she was so interconnected with everyone else that invariably she would start talking or thinking about other characters like Kiki, Lynette, or Boyd, and I would get interested again. In the end reading this was a great pleasure. I will definitely move on to read other Joan Silber. . ( )
  Narshkite | Jul 31, 2022 |
Story telling at its best. Really enjoyed this. ( )
  viviennestrauss | Dec 29, 2021 |
Improvement
by Joan Silber
2017, Counterpoint
Hardcover, 256pp

"Some people designed their body art so it all fit together, but I did mine piecemeal, like my life, and it looked fine."

Yet another offering where life is messy and characters are mostly fatalistic and enslaved to whimsical desire. Life sweeps along and affairs abound. The only character of real depth and interest, Kiki, stays in the shadows, validating the proposition that desire fulfilled diminishes interest. The story takes the form of a butterfly effect, book-ended with the best of the small lot of characters. Recommended for those who desire impressionistic morsels to occupy a short commute. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
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"One of our most gifted writers of fiction returns with a bold and piercing novel about a young single mother living in Harlem, her eccentric aunt, and the decisions they make that have unexpected implications for the world around them. Reyna knows her relationship with Boyd isn't perfect, yet she sees him through a three-month stint at Riker's Island, their bond growing tighter. Kiki, now settled in the East Village after a youth that took her to Turkey and other far- off places--and loves--around the world, admires her niece's spirit but worries that motherhood to four-year-old Oliver might complicate a difficult situation. Little does she know that Boyd is pulling Reyna into a smuggling scheme, across state lines, violating his probation. When Reyna takes a step back, her small act of resistance sets into motion a tapestry of events that affect the lives of loved ones and strangers around them. A novel that examines conviction, connection, repayment, and the possibility of generosity in the face of loss, Improvement is as intricately woven together as Kiki's beloved Turkish rugs, as colorful as the tattoos decorating Reyna's body, with narrative twists and turns as surprising and unexpected as the lives all around us. The Boston Globe said "No other writer can make a few small decisions ripple across the globe, and across time, with more subtlety and power," and Improvement is Silber's most shining achievement"--

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