No, that’s not a mistake. My lovely in-laws gave me a gift certificate to my favorite indie bookstore for Christmas–or my birthday, same difference. I saved it, because January isn’t a great time to find new books, and celebrated the Victoria Day long weekend with an orgy of admiring pretty covers and feeling paper and browsing blurbs. I love e-reading for convenience and reduced clutter and giant print, but there’s a sensuous pleasure in paper books that I can’t entirely give up.
So here’s what I got:
You want to know more, right? Continue reading
Links are to the books’ Goodreads pages, if you want to know more.
Finally finished Zadie Smith’s NW. I find it hard to talk about a book if I don’t have a ”reading” of it. I just don’t know what I think about NW, or what I think it was trying to do. I found it easy to put down and forget about, though I liked the ideas about place and origins and whether we can ever leave home. This would be great for a digital humanities project mapping the characters’ movements through London. I’m a reader who likes plot, and though I found the formal experiments here interesting, it lacked the narrative verve and forward drive of White Teeth. Yet each of the episodes did build to a climax, and in retrospect I could see the clues that it was going to.
Carlene Bauer’s Frances and Bernard is an epistolary novel featuring a pair of writers. Yes please! My gold standard for this kind of thing is A.S. Byatt’s Possession, and Bauer didn’t hit those heights for me. But it’s hardly fair to compare a 200-page book entirely in letters to Byatt’s huge, dense novel. Frances and Bernard are apparently loosely inspired by Flannery O’Conner and Robert Lowell, two writers I know as little about as is possible for someone with a PhD in English. A writer who bases her characters on famous writers invites invidious comparison, and Bauer wisely doesn’t include any of their fiction or poetry. Whether or not her fictional letters rise to the level of her inspirations, I really enjoyed them. The early letters made me nostalgic for those late-night college talks that ranged from big ideas to aspirations to that hot guy in your English class. A couple of favorite passages: Continue reading
Posted in fiction, mystery, review, romance
Tagged Absolutely Positively, Amy Andrews, Carlene Bauer, Frances and Bernard, Innocent til Proven Otherwise, Jayne Ann Krentz, Monkeewrench, NW, PJ Tracy, Zadie Smith
So crap, I say I’m going to write quick and dirty reviews for the next little while and then I go and read Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You and have all these complicated mixed feelings.
Louisa Clark, a rather aimless young woman, takes a job as a caregiver for Will Traynor. She’s working-class, wears kooky clothes, and has hardly ever left her small town. Will’s rich and before his spinal cord injury (he’s quadriplegic) he was an adventure travel, business tycoon, alpha player kind of guy. They change each others’ lives. The novel is (mostly) not melodramatic or manipulative, but it is a tear-jerker and I am constitutionally averse to that. Part of my mixed feelings were because I resisted the book. For balance, here are two glowing reviews from people who surrendered to the tears: AnimeJune and Liesl Schillinger in the New York Times Book Review. I can’t really discuss how I feel without talking about the ending, but I’ll put that at the end of the review with spoiler warnings (I will say I peeked and that didn’t “spoil” the book for me). [ETA: Comments will be spoilery too!]
There’s been a lot of talk the last week or so about the decline (in numbers, quality, new authors, readers) of historical romance. Jane’s suggestion at Dear Author that “We should let the historical genre die” has generated a lot of discussion (both there and on Twitter).
I agree with a lot of what Jane says about how stale the subgenre has become and how few new authors are breaking out (forget talking about why this is so, which only seems to lead to arguments among people who basically agree that variety would be nice). I don’t want to launch a campaign to save historical romance in its current narrow form, but I would like a campaign to reboot it. What can I do? Continue reading
May and June will be super busy for me, so I’m going to try to post short but regular reading updates (i.e. less than my usual 1000 words, and not obsessed over for 2 days).
I had my reading for last weekend/this week all planned out, but it turned out I needed something emotionally lighter to intersperse with JoJo Moyes’ Me Before You. What I chose was nothing on my list or even on my TBR, but Siri Mitchell’s The Cubicle Next Door. I’m not sure exactly what in this post by jmcbooks inspired me to check it out, because usually the words “inspirational chick lit,” even followed by “in a loose sort of way,” would send me running. I suspect it was her statement that the heroine’s voice makes the book. Continue reading