Category Archives: Reader Request

Here I Am & The Nightingale: Final Reads of 2016

I have the stomach flu. I’ve been meaning to write up these separate posts for days, but have instead been subsisting on ginger ale and popsicles and general grumpiness. Cue some commentary about a fitting end to 2016.

I did read two novels over the holidays. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. I have a lot to say about both, but I’m too queasy to muster much, so here’s the abbreviated version for both: don’t bother. Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, British literature, Fiction, Reader Request

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: Why you might choose cake over this novel. If you were me.

download-2As evidenced by the three stickers of award-endorsing-approval on the cover, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz, is well regarded by people who control stickers on books. Also by all of the young adults on the internet. And then all the readers on Goodreads. Why do they like it? It’s a romance, a bildungsroman, a redemption for the weirdo (and don’t all readers of YA identify as weirdos, themselves?), an affirmation of family, an exploration of identity in all its shapes. Continue reading

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Filed under Fiction, Prize Winner, Reader Request, Young Adult Fiction

The Noise of Time: I’m not good at irony

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To believe in the power of art to create or change politics (for the better) is no small thing. Such belief requires an implicit optimism that the despair and risks of the political moment (of now or any time) has difficulty supporting. Cynicism is a logical, rational response to the political moment of Trump, or in the case of Julian Barnes’ The Noise of  Time : Stalin.  The personal danger of resisting the cynical impulse by creating art is the question of the novel. Continue reading

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Filed under Fiction, New York Times Notable, Prize Winner, Reader Request

Nutshell: Clearly I’m a Masochist

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Here’s the thing. When you’re feeling feelings the best approach is to repress, ignore, and eat. It is not to confront these feelings by way of literary engagement. Right? Right. So what was I thinking in reading Ian McEwan’s new novel, Nutshell? The book is narrated by a fetus. A fucking fetus. Continue reading

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Filed under Book Club, British literature, Fiction, Reader Request