Tag Archives: Ulmer & Berne

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

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

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

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

The Ninth Hour – by Alice McDermott

The Ninth Hour is an utterly charming novel about faith, dissent, good works and love. The novel begins when Jim decides to take his own life by releasing gas into his lungs, leaving pregnant Annie on her own to make her way with her not yet born daughter. It is Annie’s good fortune (if there … Continue Reading

In The Midst of Winter – by Isabel Allende

“In the midst of winter, I finally found there was within me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus “In the Midst of Winter” is an extraordinarily enjoyable novel, beautifully written, about three people brought together for a few days due to a snowstorm. Through a compelling mix of history, mystery, romance and humor, Allende emphasizes the … Continue Reading

Little Fires Everywhere – by Celeste Ng

“Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer; how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.” This is the first line in Little Fires Everywhere and the rest of the novel explains how the Richardsons ended up losing their fancy Parkland Rd., … Continue Reading

Sing Unburied Sing – by Jesmyn Ward

“Sing Unburied Sing ” is a brilliantly evocative novel about race, family, love and addiction, with a touch of magic realism and spiritualism. Thirteen year old Jojo and his sister, Kayla, live with their mother, Leonie, their Father, Michael and their grandparents, Pop and Mam. Jojo (Joseph) and Kayla (Michaela) have never met their paternal … Continue Reading

Stay With Me – by Ayobami Adebayo

“Stay With Me” starts out strong. Yejide and Akin are Nigerian, young, in love and newly married. There is an immense amount of family pressure on them to have a child but Yejide is unable to get pregnant. She even goes so far as to climb the Mountain of Jaw-Dropping Miracles, where she is part … Continue Reading

A Horse Walks into a Bar – by David Grossman

A Horse Walks into a Bar is the story of Dov Greenstein’s stand-up routine, showcasing one evening in Netanya Israel. It would not be at all accurate to portray Dov’s routine as comedy. The novel begins with Dov taking the stage and immediately insulting his audience. Pretending to believe he was in the city of … Continue Reading

Forest Dark – by Nicole Krauss

“…in Israel no one can ever agree on the way the world appears, and despite the violence of the never-ending argument, the basic admittance of discord had always been a relief to me.” Forest Dark is about two very different people, completely unconnected, searching for some sense of something in Israel. Jules Epstein, a wealthy, … Continue Reading

A House Among the Trees – by Julia Glass

“A House Among the Trees” is a story of the fictional Morty Lear. Morty Lear is a famous author of children’s stories, best known perhaps for his novel “Colorquake”. Colorquake is a story about Ivo, whose “mother kept a perfect house, a house among the trees.” Ivo is “utterly beguiling”, an artist, a painter of … Continue Reading

Do Not Say We Have Nothing – by Madeleine Thien

“Do Not Say We Have Nothing” is an epic history of China, beginning in 1872 and ending in 2016. The story is told by Jiang Li-ling (Marie Jiang) as she discovers her family history through the violence and tragedy of the cultural revolution. After her father commits suicide in 1989, Marie Jiang lives alone with … Continue Reading
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