Archives: Fiction

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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – by Ocean Vuong

“I am thinking of beauty again, how some things are hunted because we have deemed them beautiful…To be gorgeous, you must first be seen, but to be seen allows you to be hunted.” On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a haunting letter from a son to his illiterate mother written in a dark, poetic stream … Continue Reading

Where The Crawdads Sing – by Delia Owens

“Go as far as you can—way out yonder where the Crawdads sing…in the bush where critters are wild, still behaving like critters.” Catherine Danielle Clark—“Kya”—the Marsh Girl—was 6 years old, when her mother walked out of the shack in the marsh, leaving her five children and abusive husband to fend for themselves. Slowly, each of … Continue Reading

Celestial Bodies – by Jokha Alharthi

“Celestial Bodies” takes place in Oman and  is a story of family life, love and change. The story revolves around three sisters, Mayya, Asma and Khawla, and their families past and future. Mayya is a seamstress, quiet and secretly in love with Ali bin Khallaf, when Abdallah, the son of Merchant Sulayman asks for her … Continue Reading

Inland – by Tea Obreht

Inland is the alternating stories of Lurie Mattie and Nora Lark and the ultimate intersection of those stories. Nora’s story takes place in 1893 in Amargo, Arizona Territory and Lurie’s story takes place throughout his life in a variety of places in the 1800s. Lurie has been on the run since he was six years … Continue Reading

The Ditch – by Herman Koch

“The Ditch” is a complex story about life, family, different cultures, love, revenge, aging, illness and the intersection of it all. The story revolves around “Robert”, the mayor of Amsterdam and his wife “Sylvia”. Robert is the narrator and the names are aliases, because the real names “would only confuse things. People make all kinds … Continue Reading

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – by Gail Honeyman

“I suppose one of the reasons we’re all able to continue to exist for our allotted span in this green and blue veil of tears is that there is always, however remote it may seem, the possibility of change.” Now I realize that this quote may not make you want to read this book (and … Continue Reading

Chances Are – by Richard Russo

“Chances Are” is a mystery, a love story and a buddy story all wrapped together. It is engaging, captivating, well written and 100% pure Richard Russo. Lincoln Moser, Teddy Novak and Mickey Girardi are 66 year old college buddies who get together for a reunion at Lincoln’s vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. Each come from … Continue Reading

Normal People – by Sally Rooney

Normal People is the story of two very damaged people who only feel whole when together but tragically keep finding ways to be apart. The story takes place from January of 2011 until February of 2015. In 2011, Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron are in high school. Marianne lives in a mansion with her mother … Continue Reading

The Flight Portfolio – by Julie Orringer

There are times in our past that are so horrific, and yet so monumental,  that the story must be told again and again. The trick, of course is to find a way to tell the story in a new and engaging way, that captures the interest and holds the attention of an audience. The Flight … Continue Reading

The Great Believers – by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers is a story of the AIDS epidemic, its victims and its survivors. The story is told in alternating years, beginning with 1985 in Chicago and moving to 2015 in Paris. The story starts with Nico’s funeral and funeral reception. Nico had died 3 weeks before the story begins. This part of the … Continue Reading

The Stationery Shop – by Marjan Kamali

“The Stationery Shop” is a sweet, overly sentimental story of a woman’s life journey from heartbreak in Iran to ultimate consolation in America. Roya Khanom, a 17 year old high school senior in Tehran, meets Bahman Aslan at the Stationery Store in Tehran. They start meeting there on Tuesdays and with the assistance of the … Continue Reading

The Feral Detective – by Jonathan Lethem

I actually do not know how to describe this rather odd book. At first blush, it is a peculiar story about a search for the missing daughter of a friend, which takes the protagonist into an unknown world. However, I do not think that is what this book is about. I think this book is … Continue Reading

My Sister The Serial Killer – by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister the Serial Killer may be the most literal title of any novel I have posted here. The novel is one sister’s story about her sister who kills her lovers, in what seems like rapid succession. Korede, the older less attractive sister, is a nurse at St. Peter’s in Lagos. Ayoola, her beautiful younger … Continue Reading

The Nickel Boys – by Colson Whitehead

Let me start by saying this is an excellent book. This is a very sad book but it is an excellent book. The Nickel Boys is the story of Elwood Curtis, an African American teenager with immense potential whose life and future take an unexpected turn. In 1962 Elwood’s grandmother gives him a copy of … Continue Reading

Varina – by Charles Frazier

“Varina” is the fictionalized story of Varina Davis, wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The novel starts in 1906, when James Blake tracks down Varina at The Retreat, in Saratoga Springs. James, a 46 year old biracial school teacher, had been raised by Varina and lived with her family until he was around 6 years … Continue Reading

Machines Like Me – by Ian McEwan

Those of you who follow my blog know that I rarely start a review with my opinion about a book. Well rarely, but not never. Machines Like Me is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The writing is amazing, the story is captivating and intriguing and the interplay between … Continue Reading

Unsheltered – by Barbara Kingsolver

Unsheltered is a none too subtle examination of the times we live in, and the blinders that prevent us, and likely have always prevented us, from being our true selves and securing a meaningful future. The story takes place today and in the 1870s in Vineland, New Jersey. Today’s story and the story of yesterday … Continue Reading

Milkman – by Anna Burns

“Milkman” is a novel that is difficult to describe. It is not clear exactly where it takes place (somewhere in Northern Ireland) and none of the characters have names (at least not what we think of as proper names). Some of the paragraphs go on for pages and the writing style can be described best … Continue Reading

Killing Commendatore – by Haruki Murakami

“Killing Commendatore” is prototypical Murakami—magic realism meets philosophical quandary meets spirituality meets self-awareness—enveloped in a highly unique story with a range of characters. The protagonist, whose name we are never told, is a talented artist who has been wasting his talents painting portraits. Although his talents might be wasted, his skill is apparent in his … Continue Reading

The Friend – by Sigrid Nunez

“The Friend” is a novel about writing, friendship, loss and man’s (in this case woman’s) relationship to animals, most particularly dogs. Although short (214 pages), The Friend packs a punch in the way it touches on life’s many wonders. The novel is in part a musing on writing. In this part of the novel, the … Continue Reading

There There – by Tommy Orange

There There is the story of urban Native Americans, whose lives come together at a massive Powwow at the Oakland Coliseum. There There is not a cheerful tale and involves a lot of characters. Tony Loneman is a physically disfigured 21 year old whose appearance and mental capacity were adversely affected by fetal alcohol syndrome. … Continue Reading

Ohio – by Stephen Markley

Ohio is a story about a fictional small town in Ohio, New Canaan, “cradled in the state’s northeast quadrant, equidistant from the cities of Cleveland and Columbus…”. Ohio tells the story of the town’s long term devastating impact on a group of young people who grew up there. The novel starts in October of 2007 … Continue Reading

Salvage the Bones – by Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward’s National Book award winner “Salvage the Bones” is a  complex, often difficult story that simply pulls the reader into the lives of a poor Mississippi family that ultimately survives Hurricane Katrina. In a Question and Answer session regarding the book, Jesmyn Ward says “I often feel that if I can get the language … Continue Reading

Red White Blue – by Lea Carpenter

“Red White Blue” is a literary espionage novel, written in a very unique style. The story unfolds in a slow, deliberate and fascinating way, building on itself and bringing the reader directly into the fold. Anna is the character around whom the story revolves. Anna was effectively raised by her father, Noel, after her mother, … Continue Reading
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