I liked this quite a bit, and it certainly was a page-turner.
Minor spoiler ahead.
I am leaving one or more categories out of my shelf designations becaI liked this quite a bit, and it certainly was a page-turner.
Minor spoiler ahead.
I am leaving one or more categories out of my shelf designations because knowing a bit too much in this regard could help a reader figure out the ending. Maybe. I mean, without knowing this, it's virtually impossible. The book straddles a couple of genres, not with a wide stance with with one foot definitely in something other than "psychological thriller."
I'm not going to add that other genre to my shelf descriptors.
Some readers will dislike this genre-straddling, and may even consider it cheating. I wouldn't go that far, and this didn't spoil the book for me at all. In fact, I had a theory about what was going on, and had it been correct, I'd have been very disappointed. So I'm grateful for the #WTFthatending -- they don't come along that often....more
Surprisingly, I liked this a lot; I rarely read historical fiction. It took me a long time to finish it, partly because the author utilizes several anSurprisingly, I liked this a lot; I rarely read historical fiction. It took me a long time to finish it, partly because the author utilizes several ancient languages, and I had to keep going back to the glossary and a pronunciation guide. (I bought and read this on kindle because of the heaviness of the book, but kept my paperback copy for easier reference.)...more
I like reading about medical mysteries, and this true story about one woman's battle with a terrible disorder called Anti-NMDA Receptor Autoimmune EncI like reading about medical mysteries, and this true story about one woman's battle with a terrible disorder called Anti-NMDA Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis was no exception....more
I don't read many short story collections, but reading Alice Munro makes me think I may be missing out. On the other hand, maybe she's just brilliant.I don't read many short story collections, but reading Alice Munro makes me think I may be missing out. On the other hand, maybe she's just brilliant. Scratch that -- she IS just brilliant.
Munro packs more much atmosphere, interest, insight and character into her stories (some of the are not all that short, though) than many novelists could manage over a career.
Reading her pieces, I become instantly engrossed. Some may end before I want them to, but as a rule, their lengths are usually satisfying. I just love this writer....more
**spoiler alert** I have such mixed feelings about this book, almost a love/hate relationship with it. One thing I agree about with many readers is Be**spoiler alert** I have such mixed feelings about this book, almost a love/hate relationship with it. One thing I agree about with many readers is Bender's stylistic decision to omit quotations around speech. If such a thing is done unobtrusively -- and I mean, so that it NEVER makes you have to re-read a line -- then I'm fine with it. But I had to re-read many, many lines (and I know now it wasn't just me).
So, there's that.
Something I read by a reader that I did not agree with was that this book does not employ magical realism. It does indeed, at least according to the wikipedia definition, which reads, in part: Matthew Strecher defines magic realism as "what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe." I think "...Lemon Cake" satisfies on both counts (realistic setting; bunch of stuff too strange to believe).
I'm fine with magical realism, although I wouldn't say I seek it out. But it doesn't, by itself, turn me for or against a piece of writing. Okay, time for a couple spoilers:
I had no trouble going along with Roses' gift/curse -- her ability to perceive the emotional state(s) of the person(s) who had prepared whatever she eats. That served a literary purpose: It was a unique way of showing us what was going on under the surface, or secretly, with some of her family members. I thought it was pretty clever to approach family history and dynamics in this way.
What I'm not sure worked as well was the revelation that Rose's grandfather, brother and father had or possibly had similar gifts. That was fascinating, in a way, but diluted the power of the idea as a literary device. It DID raise other questions that venture beyond family issues: What if the reason Joseph kept disappearing was because his version of the gift was unbearable?
Before the book revealed what was going on, my mind kept pondering sci-fi explanations: Was he entering a different dimension? Nope, he was turning into furniture -- which of course also means something symbolic because of his mom's line of work.
Ultimately, that was just a bit TOO weird for me. The bit in which Rose sees the chair leg where Joseph's leg should be, under his trousers, was creepy and unsettling. I was relieved to get the explanation near the end of the book, but still feel that going to this place with the conceit may have divided (and weakened) the book's purpose. I could be wrong. Maybe Bender's intention was primarily to explore such an ability, and what it would be like for different people to cope with....more