In honor of Updike's recent death and my great fondness for his short fiction in particular, as well as his Rabbit series, I recently read "Trust Me,"...moreIn honor of Updike's recent death and my great fondness for his short fiction in particular, as well as his Rabbit series, I recently read "Trust Me,"which I happened to pick up at the library this fall in a strange coincidence. This book confirms was all the obituaries have been highlighting, the Updike was a real chronicler of the middle class, and an expert observer of the smaller moments in life, such as feeling sick on a plane, eyeing someone at a party, noticing the way someone smokes a cigarette or a cup of coffee. I call these "landmark" moments, and he really understood how to make these add up to a large emotional payoff. Even though these stories were written over 30 years ago, they are timeless. My favorite story this collection is the title work, "Trust Me," which depicts in painful detail a man still getting over his divorce and trying to move on to new relationships and the scary world of meeting strangers again.
I am very interested in reading the story, "My Friends from Philadelphia" (is this the name?) and "Pigeon Feathers," which I think is another collection, has anyone read these?
I'm surprised they haven't made a movie out of more than the others outside of "Witches of Eastwick." Also, has anyone read his last book, which was the "Widows of Eastwick?"(less)
As with many of the other reader reviews I just skimmed, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and the way the other wove in the suspense element wi...moreAs with many of the other reader reviews I just skimmed, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and the way the other wove in the suspense element with other artsy techniques that felt genuine and well thought out.
Abby, a San Francisco photographer, is the stepmother of six-year-old Emma, engaged to Jake. The main plot takes place at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, where during the first chapter, Emma disappears (in the fog, of course) when Abby looks away briefly to take a photo. The rest of the book focuses on trying to find Emma, while developing other relationships and how they are impacted, such as Abby and Jake's lives, references to cameras and photographic techniques, tied in with memory and how the mind works. In mysterious ways, yes.
The best thing about the book is the suspense and the way the author really keeps us interested, although we have barely met Emma. I truly had no idea how the book would end, which says a lot for the author. I also liked the physical descriptions and the sense of place in San Francisco, particularly since I recently moved here.
Less successful for me was some of the back story regarding Abby's life, meaning her parents divorce, her relationship with her sister and earlier childhood memories, and her highly physical relationship with a previous lover. There was a significant amount of time spent on all this, and I didn't find it necessary to have that much backstory. I found the main plot sufficient enough, and wasn't sure what the author was trying to accomplish with all this.
Overall, however, an excellent read and I look forward to Richmond's new book that just came out this summer, "No One You Know." Has anyone read it yet?(less)
This book is a fast read and perhaps deserves the most recognition for covering a topic-- the bombings in Bali-- that I've not seen as the backdrop fo...moreThis book is a fast read and perhaps deserves the most recognition for covering a topic-- the bombings in Bali-- that I've not seen as the backdrop for any other fiction. The author does such too good job moving things along in the narrative, so that the book felt rushed to me, and I see that she wrote it in only 5 weeks, which is very fast for a novel. While the situations were intriguing, that characters felt more like outlines or brushstrokes, and not as deep or evocative as they could have been. Same with the descriptions of the landscape, city streets, etc. In the parts of the book that are summary, or backstory, the writing is very general, almost like a script outline. There were also actions that Jamie took as the central character that felt a little forced for their symbolism, ie impulsively swimming, climbing the top of a pole, etc. I would have liked to have seen more subtly in her and the other characters, and the native Balinese people in the book also feel a bit cliche. I liked the character of Gabe, the man she has returned to Bali to see, and was rooting for them to be together in the end. But once again, their dialogue didn't feel particularly unique or deep. I would definitely read this author again, but don't think I will reflect on this book too much after the fact. (less)
Mixed feelings on this one. While it was a fairly quick read, I wanted a more original plot and characters, particularly from Anna Quindlen, who I gen...moreMixed feelings on this one. While it was a fairly quick read, I wanted a more original plot and characters, particularly from Anna Quindlen, who I generally love and admire. The premise of moving to the country from New York City and trying to make a new life there ("Baby Boom" style) has been written about so many times, it makes me cringe to see it as the main framework here. The notion of an aging divorcee jilted by her philandering husband is also not new. The main character lacked depth, and so did the man she ends up connecting with, so I didn't care too much. I liked the way her stalled photography career was brought to life, but that was not enough to hold the book together, and the attempts at suspense (weird objects found outside, disappearing love interest after "intense" date...) fell flat. I wish the author had added more depth to all the characters, so we felt more was at stake here. Since the novel felt like it was written in a rush, one more revision with this goal in mind would have made a big difference. I was left feeling indifferent.(less)
This is a compelling book of short stories by a clearly exceptional writer, whose style reminds me of a cross between Anne Beatty and Lorrie Moore. I...moreThis is a compelling book of short stories by a clearly exceptional writer, whose style reminds me of a cross between Anne Beatty and Lorrie Moore. I like how the author with fairly minimal descriptions paints a rich picture, and she intelligently grasps unusual and dramatic situations. That being said, I agree with those reviewers who observed that the situations tended to overpower the characters a bit, and there were times when I wanted less story and even more depth. I also feel the first story, "Bride," was the strongest, and the payoff progressively less as we move through the book.
Kyle is certainly an original writer, and I'm not surprised at the recognition she has received so far. Looking forward to her next books.(less)
I had picked up a monograph of the title story last year at Book Expo America in NYC, so I had a taste of what to expect from this collection, which I...moreI had picked up a monograph of the title story last year at Book Expo America in NYC, so I had a taste of what to expect from this collection, which I classify as interwoven stories with similar themes. While I felt the most moved by the very first and last stories, the author's masterful ability to write about love and loss is impressive throughout, as are his depiction of the immigrant experience and the clashing of cultures in America. Diaz has that ability to make stories seem easily written, when they are actually quite complex and sophisticated, and he knows what ingredients and dynamics get us to respond and feel with him. His use of "You" (imperative) to depict the main character in the title story is particularly powerful, and gives him the emotional leverage he needs to describe the process of loss and recovery over several years, and the vibrant last line-- "sometimes all we get us a new start" -- has that much more meaning.
Diaz gets the little details of life right, from the disturbing flows of a bad vacation, to the way people look when they are sick, to nuances of dialogue in conversation, and his writing is sparse and rather ruthless. He isn't afraid to cut to the core of a moment, a phrase or a look.
I never heard Diaz give a reading, but after reading this book and comments by the other reviewers, I am going to make it a point to hear him when I can. While the sexually explicit language can be a bit off putting to those not used to it, it didn't stop me from recommending the book to my mother.(less)
I have been a fan of Helen Schulman's writing for years, particularly her most recent novels, "The Revisionist" and "P.S." "A Day at the Beach" is ano...moreI have been a fan of Helen Schulman's writing for years, particularly her most recent novels, "The Revisionist" and "P.S." "A Day at the Beach" is another affirmation of her astounding skills as a novelist, particularly in the way she develops unique characters and heightens the plot in each progressing scene, not to mention her skills as a wordsmith. I would hate for anyone to call this another "9/11" novel, as the author embarks on new territory by revealing that day as it affects Gerhard, a former star dancer who recently lost his dance company, his wife Suzannah, a former dancer who has paid a high price for Gerhard's "transgressions," and their autistic son Nikolai, who presents his own challenges. Fleeing New York on that terrible day, the family drives to the Hamptons to escape, only to find different kinds of challenges as the people they run into force them to confont the truth about their own lives. The novel is packed with emotions, and you really feel like you are in the room with these characters. There are incredible descriptions of food, the ocean, the horrible day as it unfolded in news briefs, and the dynamics of a marriage in trouble. My only critique is that the second half of the book is a bit rushed - we are only getting to know the secondary characters who suddenly have a huge impact on the central drama, and the chance reunions on both the husband and wife's side are a bit too much of a coincidence. Otherwise, I highly recommend this terrific novel and all of Helen's other books. (less)
My first experience reading Susan Choi, and I have to say this book was very compelling and masterfully handled. While the plot proved to be entirely...moreMy first experience reading Susan Choi, and I have to say this book was very compelling and masterfully handled. While the plot proved to be entirely different from what we expect, the author captures the nuances of romantic passion between women, and has an authenticity to all her characters, from the narrator on down. I also liked the way she convincingly depicted the passage of time, and the way her characters experience the trials of life, and mature. My only critique is that I had trouble visualizing some of the characters--Choi focuses on bodies more then faces, and I wanted a more dramatic scene during one of the reunion sections later in the book. Choi gets live, life, and the college and post college experience, absolutely right. Looking to read her other books!(less)
I found this book hard to follow. While I enjoyed the first half, the second half seemed to spiral out of control with a lot of monologues and really...moreI found this book hard to follow. While I enjoyed the first half, the second half seemed to spiral out of control with a lot of monologues and really long sentences. Not sure what the point of it was, although I realize much of it was satirical. Characters too farcical to have much meaning for me.(less)
Couldn't finish this, gave up after about 30 pages. The stream of consciousness is really hard to follow, and don't see the payoff. I like more tradit...moreCouldn't finish this, gave up after about 30 pages. The stream of consciousness is really hard to follow, and don't see the payoff. I like more traditional narrative.(less)
Excellent! I love the narrator's voice and the suspension of beliefs one has to have. There are many lessons in this book, but the greatest one was re...moreExcellent! I love the narrator's voice and the suspension of beliefs one has to have. There are many lessons in this book, but the greatest one was really about hanging in there and sticking with things no matter how tough life gets.
This is today's blog post from Dec 17th, 2012, on Life of Pi (book and movie) inspiring business lessons!
Excellent and very moving, but reminded me a bit of Christmas Carol, the way the main character is shown his life. A lot of twists and turns for somet...moreExcellent and very moving, but reminded me a bit of Christmas Carol, the way the main character is shown his life. A lot of twists and turns for something that seems simple, but then that is the trademark of this author. I really like the details he chose to tell his story, and the brief flashbacks. Very emotional.(less)
Just started reading this, looking forward to it as I've heard so much about it and sounds like the poor woman went through so much! It would seem to...moreJust started reading this, looking forward to it as I've heard so much about it and sounds like the poor woman went through so much! It would seem to add to the theory that if time doesn't heal all wounds, maybe travel to exotic countries does!(less)