25 March 2017

Atonement, by Ian McEwan

It is beyond my talents to aptly praise this excellent novel. It begins in an English country house where the Tallis family lives, circa 1935. A sort of tragedy occurs, or at least is perceived to occur, which changes everyone's life, but only as World War II is about to change absolutely everyone's life.

I read this in about a day. What a great piece of work.

24 March 2017

Barkskins, by Annie Proulx

Begins in the late 17th century in New France. Characters include some native people as well as Europeans. Good point-of-view stuff from the natives. This is historical fiction, and necessarily expositive, but this for me is the way to read history. The "real" stuff puts me to sleep.

A mixed review from The NY Times.

End of Watch, by Stephen King

This is the last in the Mr. Mercedes series, which King started out as a project in noir crime fiction. I'd say he got pretty far away from that genre, especially in this latest novel. Nonetheless, it's a good story, with lovable characters -- and a tinge of horror and fantasy. Lots of suspense, of course. Definitely worth reading for entertainment.

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith

One of the best new authors I've "discovered" in a long time. This is a very well-done story about two young women who love dance, who grew up together, and grew apart.

Along the way there is much more, commentary on popular culture and cross-ocean philanthropy.

 Read it.

Invasion, by Luke Rinehart

I became interested in Luke Rinehart from an article that I read about him. I really wanted to read an early novel by him, but the library had only this one.

The book is lighthearted and fantastic, a humorous account of an alien invasion by creatures that believe that what's wrong with the Earth is that people don't have enough fun.

Unfortunately, I really can't recommend the book. I found it tiresome toward the end and more or less just skimmed the last couple of chapters. The ending seems to me the type of ending that happens when a writer doesn't know how to end his book and stops trying.

16 January 2017

Everybody's Fool, by Richard Russo

My wife says this is the best book she's ever read.

Russo is certainly one of my very favorite writers. He has the Mohawk River region distilled in his several works located there, and this one is the best of that lot, for sure.

It's too good and complicated of a story to spoil; go and read it, if you've read the novels that precede it. If you haven't, go read them first. Or don't. This book will stand on its own feet just fine, but you're missing something.

Here's his bibliography on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Russo#Works

The books that are related to Everybody's Fool, in chronological order, are:

  1. Mohawk
  2. The Risk Pool
  3. Nobody's Fool
  4. Empire Falls
But, do yourself a favor and read them all. "Living Treasure" is a cliche unworthy to describe Russo, but he is, a living treasure.

27 December 2016

Timequake, by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut's last novel, I think.

If you've read Vonnegut, you will probably enjoy this as you have his other work. If, however, you are not familiar with Vonnegut, this late work is--in my opinion--oddly a very good place to start. It is a sort of fictional autobiography, a tour-de-force in which some of his fictional characters appear along with the author.

The world is a sadder and poorer place without Kurt Vonnegut.