CategoryOther Reviews

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

I did come to enjoy the Olive stories in the original Olive Kitteridge, but hesitated to read this one. Olive is hard to love, given her penchant for saying what she thinks, no matter how hurtful it might be. She seems to go out of her way to express that honesty when no one asked for her thoughts. On the other hand she often finds the kind word to say, in spite of herself, and steps in to be...

The Mountain by Paul Yoon

After a month of reading and listening only fitfully and irritably, this week I found I could lose myself again in a book. And what a surprising one the first book turned out to be:  A book of short stories set in a variety of circumstances that had misery in common. And yet the artistry made it possible to focus on the stories. As always it’s unclear how to describe a book of short...

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

When I finished this book I had one of those rare moments when I was so overwhelmed by its beauty that tears came to my eyes.  When the full impact of its wonderful structure became evident at the end, I felt such elation. Evaristo is the co-winner of the Booker Prize this year for this book. She tells the stories of a dozen characters who have ties to each other; sometimes the ties are...

The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez

The book jacket says this 2006 book is about two women from very different backgrounds who met as freshmen at Barnard in 1968. One, Ann, is from a wealthy family, successful at any endeavor she takes up. The other is Georgette, the narrator, who comes from an underprivileged background involving heavy drinking and an abusive mother in upstate New York. The two become very close, and though...

Florida by Lauren Groff

The author’s great strength, evident in both this book and in Fates and Furies, is her brilliant use of descriptive language. In “Ghosts and Empties,” the first story, a woman recounts the walks she takes each night while her husband puts their two boys to bed. She is dismayed to have become “a woman who yells,” and she hopes her walks will counter that. Some of my...

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

This remarkable novel on the NYT list of the ten best novels of 2019 is the author’s first. It is set on Kamchatka, a remote peninsula in the east of Russia, much closer to Alaska than to Moscow. It takes place over the course of a year, a chapter for each month. The first chapter describes a terrible event, the kidnapping of two young girls, that was very difficult for me to read. Each...

Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

After Bernardine Evaristo won, well, co-won, the Booker Prize recently for her new book, I found her 2013 book in the library that has been on my TBR list. She is amazing, and I look forward to reading her new one, Girl, Woman, Other. It’s hard to love the character Mr. Loverman, despite his many appealing qualities; Barry is a complex guy. He and all his friends were born in Antigua and...

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In Coates’ Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross I learned that in addition to his non-fiction work, he has authored Black Panther Marvel Comics, a series which began in 1966. A character with superpowers comes naturally to him and an action-filled story is to be expected. So for me the pace was exhausting, even with the reflections and introspection of Hiram, the narrator. The author...

Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis

The Shadow Giller Prize Jury is back in business now that the shortlist has been announced and I am happy to see David Bezmozgis is on the shortlist. I loved the two of his other books that I have read. His work reflects his background:  he is a Jewish Latvian who arrived in Canada in 1979 when he was a child. This collection of short stories is sometimes told by a narrator who seems to be the...

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

As I read this short book, I was alarmed at how quickly it was flying by. And after it was finished, I remarked on the intensity with which I felt the presence of each character the author created. It opens with a chapter narrated by Melody, dressed to the nines for her 16th birthday party in 2001 in the dress her mother would have worn had she not been pregnant with Melody. Subsequent chapters...

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