Archives: Fiction

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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

Southernmost – by Silas House

“Southernmost” is a thoughtful contemplation of tolerance, acceptance and the role of religion in everyday life. Asher Sharp is a self-taught Pentecostal preacher in a small town outside Nashville, Tennessee. When we first meet him, the town is in the midst of a flood brought on by incessant rain and a rising river. Asher rescues … Continue Reading

Safe Houses – by Dan Fesperman

I decided it was time to take a break from my usual books focused on life’s hard questions, deep introspection and angst. I felt like it was time to lighten up, so I tackled Dan Fesperman’s 400 page “Safe Houses.” And I am glad I did! Safe Houses is a story of CIA intrigue, with … Continue Reading

The Melody – by Jim Crace

“The Melody” tells the story of an aging singer, who at a younger stage of his life was beloved and famous and is clinging to the melodies as he ages. Alfred Busi is living in a no name town, likely somewhere in Europe, in an age old villa on the sea. He had lived in … Continue Reading

The Dakota Winters – by Tom Barbash

“The Dakota Winters” is a story of historical fame and privilege, told through the eyes of Anton Winter. Anton is the son of Buddy Winter, a famous talk show host who is attempting a comeback after having a breakdown on his own show and simply walking out. The Winter family lives in the famous Dakota, … Continue Reading

Gone So Long – by Andre Dubus III

“Gone So Long” tells the story of a family, mainly Susan and her grandmother Lois, dealing with the lifelong impact of the murder of Susan’s mother/Lois’s daughter—Linda Dubie Ahearn. Linda was murdered by her own husband, Daniel Ahearn, in front of their then three year old daughter, Susan. Daniel served 15 years in prison for … Continue Reading

Transcription – by Kate Atkinson

“Transcription” is a very enjoyable novel about spies and counter spies in England during World War II. The story is full of surprises. The lead character, Juliet Armstrong, had wanted to join one of the women’s armed forces. But when war was declared she was summoned to an interview and found herself part of the … Continue Reading

The Mars Room – by Rachel Kushner

“A lot of worlds have existed that you can’t look up online or in any book, even as you think you have the freedom to find things out…And if someone did remember [certain people]…that person’s account would make them less real, because my memory of them would have to be corrected by facts, which are … Continue Reading

Home Fire – by Kamila Shamsie

“Home Fire” is a 21st century tragedy. The novel speaks to the unintended consequences of intolerance, isolation, extremism, radicalization and bigotry. Many months ago I reviewed the memoir “They Told Me to Come Alone.” Home Fire seems to me to be the fictional companion to Souad Mekhennet’s memoir. Home Fire focuses on the Muslim Pasha … Continue Reading

Clock Dance – by Anne Tyler

Clock Dance is the story of Willa and her clock dance through life. Willa first learns the concept of clock dance when she is 61 years old. But that part of the story comes later in this review. The novel is broken down into life stages. We first meet Willa in 1967 when she is … Continue Reading

Warlight – by Michael Ondaatje

“In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals.” Warlight is a story of intrigue during World War II. The narrator of the story (Nathaniel) is 14 years old when his parents announce that they are leaving for a year to go to Singapore for … Continue Reading

Asymmetry – by Lisa Halliday

“asymmetry a·sym·me·try (ā-sĭm’ĭ-trē) n.  Disproportion between two or more like parts; lack of symmetry.” Dictionary.com “Asymmetry” is three interlocking yet seemingly unrelated stories revolving around writing. Alice, a 25 year old editorial assistant, meets Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Ezra Blazer at a park where she is reading a manuscript. Ezra is 65 years old when they meet. Throughout the first story a relationship develops between … Continue Reading

An American Marriage – by Tayari Jones

“An American Marriage” is a story about resilience in the face of conflicting emotions and frustrated expectations. An American Marriage is about rising above racial inequity and social injustice. And finally, An American Marriage is about coincidence and how life’s twists and turns are sometimes beyond our control. The novel starts with an introduction to … Continue Reading

The Only Story – Julian Barnes

“Everyone has their love story. Everyone.  It may have been a fiasco, it may have fizzled out, it may never even have got going, it may have all been in the mind, that doesn’t make it any less real.”  “The Only Story” is Paul’s love story.  Only it is really much more than that.  It … Continue Reading

Elmet – by Fiona Mozley

“Elmet” is an extraordinarily dark and deeply disturbing tragedy touching upon the cruelty of people to each other, with sporadic glimpses of and nods to the strength of family. The novel is set in rural England, although precisely where (Elmet?) is never made clear. The story begins with a brother traveling in search of his … Continue Reading

White Houses – by Amy Bloom

White Houses is a fictional account of the romantic relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickock. The story is told by Hick, as she looks back at their relationship during her later years. Hick met Eleanor when she was assigned to cover the Roosevelts while FDR was governor of New York and running for … Continue Reading

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – by Maria Semple

“Where’d You go Bernadette,” is a light, funny story of a social misfit, Bernadette, her daughter, Bee and her husband, Elgie. As you might be able to tell from the not so subtle title, Bernadette mysteriously goes missing. You can get the flavor of the book on the first page when Bee is musing: “The … Continue Reading

4321 by Paul Auster

“4321” is a tome– an innovative, annoying conglomeration of 4 unique possibilities for one man’s life. The author best describes the novel himself through the main character Archie Ferguson, who observes that “the story was released from the domain of jokes to become a parable about human destiny and the endlessly forking paths a person … Continue Reading

Future Home of the Living G-d – by Louise Erdrich

In Louise Erdrich’s new novel, humanity is facing its end as the result of what appears to be devolution, possibly resulting from climate change. Cedar Hawks Songmaker is the adopted daughter of Sera and Glen Songmaker. Her biological mother is Ojibwa. “When I tell you that my white name is Cedar Hawk Songmaker and that … Continue Reading

The Library at the Edge of the World – by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

“She told herself that a letter was nothing but words on paper. But a librarian should know better than anyone how written words, moving through time and space, could change a person’s life.” After the end of a lengthy marriage and many years living a sophisticated life in London, Hanna Casey finds herself moving in … Continue Reading
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