Before the Fall: My Memory is Useless

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I wish I had written this post two weeks ago when I’d finished reading Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall. Two weeks ago I had insightful things to say. Now I can only tell you that I read the whole thing in 36 hours and that it has something to do with a plane crash. It’s worth considering why I read anything when I really and truly can’t remember basic plot points or thematic questions less than two weeks later. I’ll console myself by thinking that I read because I enjoy the novel while I’m reading it, even if I’m certain to forget the entire thing almost immediately.

Anyway. What I do remember: it’s a murder mystery. There’s quite a bit of focus on incredibly wealthy people and the luxurious stuff they own. I usually find these kinds of descriptions of wealth obnoxious (and an obvious show that the novel wants to be turned into a movie where everyone and everything will be Glossy and Shiny and Gold) and an implicit reinforcement that wealthy people not only have more money but are fundamentally better than us workers. This novel was no exception: rich people have better things, more interesting lives, access to power and influence, and generally get whatever they want. The rest of us are just along for the ride to show them how great they are. And in this case when the reader is (almost certainly) not a disgustingly wealthy person, the reading is an exercise in unsolicited envy as we’re made to identify with these rich folks only to look up from our novel and see a living room still populated by second hand furniture and IKEA cabinets. Oh well.

There’s a great opening scene with swimming that I do have a vivid recollection of and found quite captivating.

On the murder bits: there’s a twisty surprise ending that you will recognize as a twisty surprise ending and – if you’re like me – be not at all impressed by.

So yep. I devoured it because it was plotty and full of the described wealth envy (and some readerly self loathing). If you’re keen on well written murder mysteries: go forth! Otherwise…

 

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Filed under Bestseller, Fiction, Mystery

Today Will Be Different: Rich, white people are unhappy.

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Did I hate Maria Semple’s Today Will be Different? Did I love it? Did I love-hate it? I can’t tell. Maybe writing this will help me sort it out. Or book club on Thursday.  Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, Bestseller, Book Club, Fiction, Funny, New York Times Notable

News of the World: Why Reading the News is Brave

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I went on a book requesting spree at the end of the year when the ‘best of’ lists came out and then promptly forgot what I had requested. As a consequence I get near weekly notifications from the library that such-and-such book is waiting for me. And each time I swear I’ve never heard of the book. But off I go and pick it up and begin to read – confident in late 2016 Erin who must have had some inkling that this unknown novel was of some worth.  Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, National Book Award, New York Times Notable, Prize Winner

Commonwealth: Time, Memory, Appropriation (and a digression about Joseph Boyden)

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I haven’t read Bel CantoAnn Patchett’s (most?) famous novel. I probably should because everything I’ve read by her provokes some kind of… reaction in me. Commonwealth was no exception. Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, Fiction, New York Times Notable