CategoryOther Reviews

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang

Both Dorothy and Jen were enthusiastic about this book. Its author is the Director of the Iowa Writers Workshop, so its focus is on the business of teaching people to write. SPOILER ALERT!! One of the main reasons I write about books is so that I can remember whatever odd bit or important point that strikes me. So, be forewarned. The initial setting in the book is an exclusive (fictional)...

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

In just a few sentences Murakami can bring you into a world you know nothing about, but you are ready to let him guide you as he wishes. The first story tells about Kafuku, a successful actor, who found himself in need of a driver because a minor accident uncovered a glaucoma-caused small blind spot. Despite his reluctance to be driven by a woman, he agreed to be driven by Misaki who turned out...

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Recently I noted that Patrick deWitt’s book Sisters Brothers is now a movie. Though I thoroughly enjoyed it as a book, the violence which was only just tolerable in the book will keep me out of the theater. That book was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize; this one came to my attention as a finalist for the Giller Prize. I look forward to reading what the Shadow Giller folks have to say...

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors

When I was reading this book sometimes I drifted off without quite knowing it, until I became conscious that what I thought I was reading was surely not right. It took me to some odd places. This book is a series of observations about a woman in her 40s. Sonja grew up in rural Jutland, Denmark and seeing herself as different from her family and everyone else there, made her way to Copenhagen. She...

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

Having been impressed with Thirteen Ways of Looking and Let the Great World Spin, I was glad to hear Dorothy’s recommendation to read TransAtlantic. I was doubtful that the structure of this novel would work for me. McCann first tells the story of three important but unrelated events:  the first airborne crossing of the Atlantic, the visit to Ireland in 1845 by Frederick Douglass, and...

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

The narrator of this dark comic novel tells that she was “lovingly brought up in a normal suburban residential area. But everyone thought I was a rather strange child.” She describes an Amelia-Bedelia moment:  as a small child she finds a dead bird in the park and when her mother suggests burying it, she counters with a suggestion to eat it, grilling it as other birds are cooked and...

There There by Tommy Orange

This one will make my list of favorites for the year. The world of Native Americans in this country is hard to imagine and painful to confront. The confinement to reservations is somewhat familiar to us; this book brings us into the world of urban Native Americans, in this case, in Oakland. The author introduces many characters and slowly reveals the connections among them.  The narrative moves...

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

It was Tony’s review that sent me to this book, and thank you for that, Tony. It is set in London and begins in 1945 when Nathaniel, the narrator and his sister were teenagers and their parents left them “in the care of two men who may have been criminals.” Nathaniel tells us the story, not always in a linear manner, from his vantage point as an adult. He brings the odd corner...

The Hamilton Case by Michelle de Kretser

There is much to admire about this book, but at half way through, I gave it up. I want to read Michelle de Kretser’s two recent novels, but this was available at the library, so I gave it a try. It is set in Sri Lanka and begins with a first person narrative by a man born in 1902. His description of himself and his family paint unpleasant portraits, told with a light, amusing touch that is...

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

The second in the series of Maisie Dobbs books was at least as satisfying as the first. I was surprised how much I enjoyed revisiting the exceptional Maisie, but it was a lovely companion to kitchen work, walking, and weeding. Maisie, the former housemaid in a grand house, graduate of a Cambridge women’s college, and nurse in France during The Great War, has become a private investigator...

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