Tuesday, September 12, 2023

The Vet's Daughter

A classic I've had on the shelf for years, rose like cream to the top of my favorites for this year. Bleak but well done and absorbing story of the ill-used daughter of a veterinarian and her too-brief sojourn into a happy, hopeful life. I want to read more of Barbara Comyns' work.

The Librarianist

The LibrarianistThe Librarianist by Patrick deWitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful treat, funny, propulsive, entertaining, story of a solitary librarian, his too-brief marriage, his tidy years into retirement and volunteer efforts in an old folks home. My first from Patrick deWitt, but there'll be others. He has an easy amusing authorial tone, writes well, and presents a cavalcade of unique characters who cross in and out of Bob Comet's life.
"And I suppose you're a fiend for books?"
"I suppose I am."
"I keep meaning to get to books but life distracts me."
"See, for me it's just the opposite."

During a hospital stay, Bob decides:
"After decades of rejecting the television medium he experienced a period of not just watching TV, but watching with enthusiastic interest. All his life he had believed the real world was the world of books; it was here that mankind's finest inclinations were represented. And this must have been true at some point in history, but now he understood the species had devolved and that this shrill, base, banal potpourri of humanity's worst and weakest and laziest desires and behaviors was the document of the time. It was about volume and visual overload and it pinned Bob to his bed like a cat before a strobe light. "

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The Library of Unrequited Love

The Library of Unrequited LoveThe Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

Clever little book with stream of consciousness thoughts from a librarian who's stationed in the history section of a basement library in a small town in France.
"As for men, I've given upon them. It's just impossible in a place like this, impossible. It's not exactly the sticks, but if you're a sensitive, cultivated soul like me, it's...well, it's very provincial. I need wider horizon. So, men, no, that's all over. Love, for me, is something I find in books. I read a lot, it's comforting. You've never alone if you live surrounded by books. They lift my spirit. The main thing is to be uplifted."
Who can argue with her? "When I'm reading, I'm never alone, I have a conversation with the book. It can be very intimate. Perhaps you know this feeling yourself? The sense that you're having an intellectual exchange with the author, following his or her train of thought, and you can accompany each other for weeks on end. When I'm reading, I can forget everything, sometimes I don't even hear the phone."

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Guest

The GuestThe Guest by Emma Cline
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Guest by Emma Cline was a disappointing book with an unresolved ending after following the disaffected main character through the seductive Long Island landscape and many pages. Mesmerizing enough to keep me plodding on to see how she finagles yet another man and maintains her optimism that her lover will take her back, but not satisfying, in the end, despite the effort of the author. What happened? Cline's other book, The Girls, was much more appealing to me in plot and writing.

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I Am Homeless if This is Not My Home

I Am Homeless If This Is Not My HomeI Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lorrie Moore's new novel, I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home, was a wistful tale of two brothers, one in hospice, and the other's peculiar road trip with the ghost of a lover interspersed with epistemological entries from a nineteenth century murderess. The writing is excellent and witty. The pacing is fine. But what did it all mean and why the letters? If that sort of structural ambiguity troubles you, I can't recommend this book. I read mainly for good writing yet I was confused. Check out Ron Charles: https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/...

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The Rabbit Hutch

The Rabbit HutchThe Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Rabbit Hutch is a brilliant piece of writing, almost too rich. Various stories and characters residing in a decrepit low-rent housing complex in the Rust Belt compete for the reader's attention and each is about quirky, self-involved, precariously sane individuals, all interesting, but none in which I became invested. The pacing chugged forward nicely until about two-thirds in when I was anxious for resolution for the young Blandine who has suffered so much damage. Animals are hurt, too. But what do I know? This book was on eligibility lists for the Booker Prize, the Women's Fiction Prize, the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2022, and the National Book Awards Longlist. I also read this book at an emotionally fraught time over spousal illness so my impressions may be skewed. The author has an amazing imagination and the writing is excellent.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Moon of the Crusted Snow

Moon of the Crusted SnowMoon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A humdinger! Both my partner & I each read it in two sittings. Interesting to learn about the culture and to read a snowy tale on a hot summer eve. Made us plan canning ventures for the apocalypse!

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