Tag Archives: From Briefs to Books

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

The Return—Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between – by Hisham Matar

Hisham Matar, an American born British-Libyan author, is an acclaimed novelist and essayist. The Return—Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, is a memoir about his 2012 return to Libya and attempt to come to terms with the unfathomable loss of his father, Jaballa Matar. Jaballa Matar was a wealthy Libyan, having made a small … 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

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

Evicted—Poverty and Profit In the American City – by Matthew Desmond

Sometimes, particularly if you want to effect positive change, you just have to step outside your comfort zone—work or play, conversation or listening, reading or writing. Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Evicted” is definitely outside my comfort zone. For one thing, it’s nonfiction and I do not read a lot of nonfiction. But more importantly … Continue Reading

Dinner At The Center of The Earth – by Nathan Englander

“Dinner At The Center of The Earth” is an Israeli spy novel about the ever changing world of politics, loyalty and love. The story shifts back and forth through time and takes place in Israel, Paris, Berlin and indirectly in America from 2002-2014. The novel begins with an introduction to Prisoner Z and his guard. … Continue Reading

Chemistry – by Weike Wang

“Chemistry, while powerful, is sometimes unpredictable.” Chemistry tells the story of the complexity of love, life, family, friendship, immigration and science, all in 211 very short pages. The narrator, whose name is never revealed, is a PhD candidate in chemistry, living in Boston with Eric, also a PhD candidate in chemistry. When we meet them … Continue Reading

The Power – by Naomi Alderman

“The Power” might be described as dystopian by some and might be (and in fact has been) described as a fantasy or a dream by others. I think most readers would agree that it is a wild ride. In The Power, women suddenly discover that they have electrical current running through their bodies that they can … Continue Reading

The Leavers – by Lisa Ko

“The Leavers” is a novel about racial identity, immigration and lost souls, with a touch of musical spirit. Peilan (Polly) Guo grew up in a poor village (Minjiang) in a poor province in China. Her father was a fisherman and her mother had died when she was six months old. At a young age, Polly … Continue Reading

The Time of Our Singing – by Richard Powers

“Every moving thing has its own clock.” The Time of Our Singing is an extraordinary novel that follows the past and present of the Strom family. The story is told by Joseph Strom, one of the sons of David and Delia. David Strom and Delia Daley are from two very different worlds. Delia is black, … Continue Reading

Manhattan Beach – by Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach has all the components of my favorite novels–great story, including gangsters, strong women and lots of surprises, taking place in a historical setting and just beautifully written. The book opens with Eddie Kerrigan and his 11 year old daughter, Anna, visiting the Manhattan Beach home of Dexter Styles. Anna describes her father’s job … Continue Reading

There Your Heart Lies – by Mary Gordon

In 1937, 19 year old Marian Taylor marries her gay brother’s Jewish lover, Russell Rabinowitz, and leaves the comfort of her wealthy New York Catholic family to take on the cause of the Communists against Franco in Spain. The youngest of nine, Marian and her brother Johnny have been the embarrassment of the wealthy Young family – … Continue Reading

Behold the Dreamers – by Imbolo Mbue

“Behold the Dreamers” is a first novel about immigration and the American Dream. The novel tells the story of two families, the Jongas and the Edwards. In 2004, Jende Jonga arrived in America under slightly false pretenses, obtaining a temporary visa with the understanding that he intended to return to his home country of Cameroon … Continue Reading
LexBlog