I have to start by raving about how beautiful this book is. The feel of the book itself and its cover, the gorgeous illustrations by Jarrod Taylor, th...moreI have to start by raving about how beautiful this book is. The feel of the book itself and its cover, the gorgeous illustrations by Jarrod Taylor, the thickness and heaviness of the pages, even its size - you can tell that this book was designed with the utmost care. It gives testament to just how much (so, so much) went into the crafting of the story itself, which is both heartbreaking and hopeful. I especially loved how the journal entries were written using the Loteria cards - entries written as the images on the cards evoked memories, rather than in the more perfunctory linear timeline. It muddies up the waters a bit, which is so much more true to the way life and memory work. (less)
When I was shelving this book, I almost clicked the 'poetry' tag without thinking about it. That's how gorgeous NDiaye's prose is. What a beautiful, t...moreWhen I was shelving this book, I almost clicked the 'poetry' tag without thinking about it. That's how gorgeous NDiaye's prose is. What a beautiful, tragic little book.
This is also one of the most difficult short story collections I've ever read. Not in a bad way, just in that it required more effort and concentration on my part. There is no gradual introduction to any of the stories; instead the reader is dropped right into the middle of the story - sometimes in the middle of a conversation - with no idea who is speaking to who or the context of their situation. It's kind of like being blindfolded before being led into a room with a party already in full swing. For this reason I wouldn't recommend this as an introduction to the short story form - the ambiguity might be off-putting. For those who already love short stories though, read this book. Especially the stories "The Boys" and "Revelation".
There are 11 stories in this book and I liked every single one. That doesn't happen too often. My favorites were "The 14th Week In Ordinary Time", "Pa...moreThere are 11 stories in this book and I liked every single one. That doesn't happen too often. My favorites were "The 14th Week In Ordinary Time", "Passenger", and "Eddie Truman". Thank you, Jennifer!(less)
A collection of Cheever's republished short stories that all originally appeared in The New Yorker from 1937 to 1953. My favorites are in bold, but ev...moreA collection of Cheever's republished short stories that all originally appeared in The New Yorker from 1937 to 1953. My favorites are in bold, but every single story was good. This was my intro to the genius of Cheever; he reminds me of Dorothy Parker (but deeper and with more substance) and "Clancy in the Tower of Babel" totally reminded me of Flannery O'Connor (as did the ending of "The Hartleys").
"Goodbye, My Brother" "The Enormous Radio" "O City of Broken Dreams" "The Hartleys" "The Sutton Place Story" "The Summer Farmer" "Torch Song" "The Pot of Gold" "Clancy in the Tower of Babel" "Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor" "The Season of Divorce" "The Cure" "The Superintendent" "The Children"(less)
You know, I can't properly review this book without spoiling something. What I can tell you is that:
1. I had high expectations going in (years of anti...more You know, I can't properly review this book without spoiling something. What I can tell you is that:
1. I had high expectations going in (years of anticipation will do that to you) 2. My expectations were met, if not exceeded 3. The atmosphere creeped me out enough that, at 1:30 in the morning, when I realized my husband forgot to turn the sprinklers off, I almost left them on all night rather than go out in the dark to the side of my house and turn off the water. (Granted, I am kind of chicken shit. I always check behind doors and closed shower curtains, and I've been known to sprint up the stairs after turning off all of the downstairs lights.) 4. I am bummed that it is over. I didn't want it to end, yet I couldn't put it down 5. This would make a badass movie
And for more atmosphere, add about 80% of Radiohead's music - especially Amnesiac & Hail to the Thief - to the songs below and you've got my Night Film playlist.
**Edited to add (July 28) - I was thinking about this last night and I had to come and update my review. I loved this book, but -of course- it is by no means perfect. One of the biggest problems that I had was Pessl's inability to "dumb down" character dialogue when it was necessary or appropriate. Characters would go into long monologues of explanation and I couldn't help but be jarred out of the narrative a bit. Most people do not talk like this, especially in the situations they were in (I wish I could be more specific, but spoilers and all that). For example (and keep in mind, these quotes were spoken out loud by characters:
"I was doing inventory in the back, when suddenly I was aware that all the light had retreated from the store, as if the sun had fled, cowering behind a cloud. Alarmed, I glanced up."
"When men desire each other, they crash together like wrecking balls, quenching their need right then and there, as if the world were about to end."
"... you felt as if you were following a beautiful twinkling light, luring you into the woods. As soon as you lost all sense of direction, were unable to find the way back, it turned on you viciously, exposed you nakedness, blinded you, burned you."
Great writing, but not really believable in context. Letter or journal writing, sure. Conversation? Not so much.