Category Archives: American literature

Manhattan Beach: Sex! Intrigue! Women-who-aren’t-fierce-but-just-women!

Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach is the sort of book you read while at work. Like tucked inside an important memo. (One of my memories of elementary school is our teacher discovering that Joseph had been hiding a novel behind his math textbook and the teacher went bananas and used a meter stick to hit the book across the room. Which with the benefit of age now seems an unmeasured response. I mean, I can see being annoyed if he had a porn mag tucked in there, but a novel? Oh well. I guess we must Be Respected at all times. I DIGRESS.)

It’s an excellent novel. Really. Go and get it now and start reading. Things I think make it excellent (in no particular order): Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, Bestseller, Erin's Favourite Books, Fiction, National Book Award, New York Times Notable, Prize Winner

History of Wolves: Booker Prize shortlist meet Minnesota winter; or, what to read on your holiday break

There’s a lot going on in Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves, but at its heart the novel explores culpability and guilt. The first page of the novel explains that our protagonist, Linda, held and hugged a boy, Paul, who died. What follows is how Paul died, and more significantly, why he died (as his death, we learn, was far from inevitable).  Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, Book Club, Booker Prize, Fiction, Prize Winner

Everybody’s Son: Half Novel, Half Explainer

I’m undecided about Thirty Umbrigar’s Everybody’s Son. On the one hand it tells the compelling story of the theft/adoption of an African-American boy by a uber-privileged white family; and in telling the story explores – pretty directly (okay, sometimes too directly) privilege. So yeah, that’s the other hand: the novel seems entirely unsure whether the reader will ‘get it’ and so spends altogether too much time telling the reader exactly what it’s about. Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, Fiction

The Reason You’re Alive: Funny, smart, and a lot of fun

You don’t know that you know Matthew Quick’s work (or maybe you do, and if you do, congratulations and high five), but you do. He wrote Silver Linings Playbook, made famous for its adaptation to film. I’d not read anything by him before, but J. suggested I read his latest, The Reason You’re Alive, and she’s rarely wrong, so I did. And wham bam! What fun! Okay, fun might be a stretch when describing a novel that considers the lasting impact of the Vietnam war on veterans…

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Filed under American literature, Bestseller, Fiction, Funny