I thought I might update you on my most recent reads and how I’m doing on my challenges…
So far, I have read 15 out of 40 books for the yearly challenge. I’m pretty happy with my progress.
My thoughts on five recent reads:
The Rathbones by Janice Clark. 3 out of 5 stars. Moby Dick + The Odyssey + Edgar Allen Poe + Gabriel Garcia Marquez = this book. It had an interesting premise and was well-written; it was suffused with imagery. It was innovative while heavily laden with allusions to classic fiction. But, there was nothing “light” about it. No relief from the deep and the dark. This lead me to regard it more as an undertaking than as a genuine enjoyment.
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer. 2 out of 5 stars. I was excited to read this because the cover included an approving blurb from John Irving, a favorite author of mine. I found the book incredibly disappointing. I felt that I could have done a much better job with the exact same plot, characters, and settings as my tools. Aside from the derivative style, I was mostly disheartened by Greer’s inconvenient plot. The story itself is complicated and resolves with a just-plain-stupid ending.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. 3 out of 5 stars. It was good. It was fine. But, was I as impressed as I ought to have been? A tour-de-force? Hailed by critics and the masses? Inventive, classic, and inspiring? Meh. Rather dull in my opinion. The circular, conversational narrative is tiresome if inventive. And, while the themes are suggestively bleak, they were simultaneously unsurprising. It simply doesn’t rate as highly for me as (I suppose) it should.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl. 4 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Pessl’s second novel does not disappoint. It is similarly complicated, similarly mysterious. But, it offers a whole new story with a whole new level of forethought. The mystery is deeper and the tale is darker. The characters are both annoyingly human and believably superior. Definitely suspenseful. Definitely delightful.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. 5 out of 5 stars. I saved the best for last. I can’t even remember the last 5-star book I read… I LOVED THIS BOOK. Shriver’s style is exactly my aesthetic: precise, deliberate, exacting without being minimal. She has an immense vocabulary at her disposal and she hunts for the exact wording and structure to make her perfect point. In addition to the ideal of her style, the subject matter is both provocative and heart-breaking. The content may be difficult for readers, so consider yourself warned. I believe Shriver imbues her narrative with thought, consequence, and feeling. I believe she captures the essence of her narrator impeccably. I will admit that I initially thought the author was a man and was thus predisposed to awe at how well “he” captured “his” female narrator. Upon discovering Ms. Shriver was, indeed, a woman, I was not disillusioned as I could have been. It matters not the gender of the author… because the tale is that outstanding.
Both Never Let Me Go and We Need to Talk About Kevin are on my challenge lists. See the challenge entry here.
I have also updated my book bingo: