Archive for the ‘Novel Reviews’ Category

Examining a Passage from The Goldfinch

March 26th, 2014 | Blog, Craft, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews, Process | 8 Comments

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch 

I posted earlier on the brilliant, beautiful novel The Goldfinch.  I had to do so in broad swaths, given how dense in character and plot the novel is, just to give you a taste of it. But now I want to go back and drill down on just one passage, to analyze what makes the writing—to me, at least—so marvelous. There are so many paragraphs I could choose, but I was particularly taken with the following description of how Hobie, the furniture restorer who takes in the young, homeless Theo, trains him in the art and craft … Read More

The Goldfinch: A Brilliant, Beautiful Novel

March 13th, 2014 | Blog, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews | 6 Comments

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

A friend and I were talking about hyperbole in book blurbs and reviews the other day (I confess I don’t mind a little hyperbole concerning my books).  He told me about Rich Bass’s blurb on the back cover of Cold Mountain when it came out: “It seems possible to never want to read another book, so wonderful is this one.”

I’m not willing to go that far. But after Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, I suspect it will be a long time before I read another novel that is as brilliant and beautiful as this one.

The GoldfinchRead More

The Silent Wife: A Fascinating Novel Both Psychologically and Technically

March 4th, 2014 | Blog, Craft, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews | 6 Comments

The Silent Wife I first became interested in The Silent Wife in when I read an August 4th, 2013  piece in The New York Times. The article described how the novel—a “sleeper,” written by an “unknown” Toronto writer and released as a paperback original (as opposed to a hardcover, which signals the publisher intends to push the book)–had vaulted its way onto The New York Times best-seller list. The book received some crucial attention from a handful of reviewers, and caught on via word of mouth.

I read that the author, A.S. A. Harrison, had died of cancer at 65, a few … Read More

A Hologram for the King: a Terrific Novel by David Eggers

September 30th, 2013 | Blog, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews | 2 Comments

Hologram for the KingI read a terrific novel while I was on vacation: Dave Eggers’s Hologram for the King.  Since I bought the paperback in the Newark Airport, Terminal C, which is the coldest waiting area I’ve ever experienced,  it was good to read a book set in the blazing heat of Saudi Arabia.  It also made a great trip book; it’s written in short sections that zip right along, perfect for reading on the fly, so to speak.  Its considerable strengths lie in its deceptively simple, effective prose; its main character, Alan Clay, a modern day Willie Loman; and Egger’s brilliant … Read More

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers: a Mixed Review

March 7th, 2013 | Blog, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews | 8 Comments

The Yellow Bird by Kevin Powers

The Yellow Bird by Kevin Powers

I’ve been putting off writing a review of The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers’ novel about the Iraq war.  It was a finalist for the National Book Awards, and one of the The New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012.   I feel conflicted about it.  In some ways it is a stunning book; and yet by the end I felt it was seriously flawed. I feel both guilty and insecure about my assessment.  I see on the dust jacket the high praise it has garnered from writers like Alice Sebold, Colm Toibin, Anthony … Read More

Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

November 1st, 2012 | Blog, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews | 6 Comments


Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

I hardly ever listen to books on tape, which I regret and keep meaning to remedy.  However, knowing I had a four plus hour drive ahead of me to Madeline Island in Northern Wisconsin, I dashed into our small, neighborhood library the day before I was to leave to see if I could get a book on discs.  The pickings were very slim; I almost gave up.  But then I saw Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi.  I remembered vaguely reading a review of it when it came out, which Read More

Colm Toibin’s BROOKLYN: the Self-effaced Writer

September 19th, 2012 | Blog, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews | 4 Comments


Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn

In my last post I commented that one reason I liked Carol Anshaw’s Carry the One so much was that I felt the writer’s sensibility permeated the novel.  There’s a unique personality behind the curtain, narrating and describing even as the third person point of view ranges among a number of characters.  The novel has what I think of as voice.  I’ve tackled the subject of voice in writing in an article in which I described it as “the external manifestation, in language, of the writer’s sensibility: how she sees the world; her values; what she Read More

Carol Anshaw’s CARRY THE ONE

August 16th, 2012 | Blog, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews | 4 Comments


Carry the One by Carol Anshaw

Carry the One is a wonderful novel. 

I’ve tried to think what made the book so compelling to me that I felt a sense of loss when I came to the end.  It also gave me a bad case of writer’s envy.  I really, seriously wish I had written Carry the One.  I want to write like Carol Anshaw.

The novel doesn’t have much of a plot, which I considered a strength. Its terms are different.  It starts when several of the characters as young adults are involved in a car accident Read More

Missing Lorrie Moore’s Writing: One of the Best

April 2nd, 2012 | Blog, Musings/Reminiscences, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews, Process | 6 Comments

Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore

If you’re following this blog with any regularity, I’m sure you’re relieved that I’m off my JCO’s A Widow’s Story bender.  I’m “recovering.”  Like they say, one day at a time…

I just had a fun weekend in Madison, which I had never been to.  It is a cool, hip, funky, populist town where everyone looks cool, hip and funky.  On Williamson Street where we were staying, I saw a guy sweeping his sidewalk whose hair was pretty much like a large, flattened broom head sticking straight up on top of his skull, held upright by some spackling … Read More

In Which I Try to Figure Out How and Why I Choose Certain Books to Read

March 5th, 2012 | Blog, Memoir Reviews, Musings/Reminiscences, Novel Authors, Novel Reviews | 7 Comments

What to read next?

In my last post, I talked about how there are a million books out there to read (and listed some places to read reviews of them).  Then I got myself in trouble by saying I wanted to give more thought to how and why I choose certain books and that I would report back.  Now I feel obliged to report back, not that I think anyone is holding his or her breath.  Turns out I don’t know why I pick books, beyond certain X factors that seem to vary from book to book.  It’s usually a … Read More