Tag Archives: Ulmer & Berne LLP

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

Good Kids, Bad City—A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America – by Kyle Swenson

“…the American justice system repeatedly fails to fully analyze its own mistakes and abuses. In wrongful convictions, lawsuits and cash settlements have become common, but the system itself has little inclination to push deeper with detailed inquisition into how it could break down so catastrophically.” “Good Kids, Bad City” is the story of the wrongful … 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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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