This is a young adult novel being marketed as adult fiction, but that’s no complaint. It’s a hugely fun book and I’m glad I read it. I’m sure the filmThis is a young adult novel being marketed as adult fiction, but that’s no complaint. It’s a hugely fun book and I’m glad I read it. I’m sure the film rights have been snapped up already.
Kids rarely want to read about other kids their own age (most “teen” books are read by precocious 10-12 year-olds). In this case, the main character is twelve but much of the plot might be lost on children younger than that, so I’m not sure what age I’d recommend it for. Probably I am being a stuffy grownup; my favorite book when I was 12 was 1984.
Anyway, most stuffy grownups with affection towards adventure stories will enjoy this too. It’s well-written with memorable characters and a satisfying fable-like ending....more
I didn't love this in the way that the reviews implied I would, but for part one of a three-part fantasy series, I was pretty engaged. I'll follow theI didn't love this in the way that the reviews implied I would, but for part one of a three-part fantasy series, I was pretty engaged. I'll follow the rest of them as they come out, certainly....more
Everybody was talking about Bolaño this year because of 2666, but Dan got 2666 for Christmas and I got The Savage Detectives. We started reading themEverybody was talking about Bolaño this year because of 2666, but Dan got 2666 for Christmas and I got The Savage Detectives. We started reading them around the same time, and despite the fact that 2666 is at least twice as long, I finished a month later.
I’m not sure what my problem is with Latin American literature. These two books weren’t written in the same language, much less from the same country, but there’s something about them both that just made reading a grind. Maybe it’s wading through all those names.
There are extraordinary passages in The Savage Detectives, though, and I knew that the ending would be transformative. I’m glad I read it. I just don’t think I got it....more
This was a pre-release copy but the book had come out by the time I read it, so I already knew it had gotten good reviews. It’s one of those parallel-This was a pre-release copy but the book had come out by the time I read it, so I already knew it had gotten good reviews. It’s one of those parallel-stories-separated-in-time novels, and as is often the case the best parts are the historical fiction. Ebershoff fictionalizes an actual 19th century memoir with the much-superior title, Wife no.19, or the story of a life in bondage. Being a complete exposé of Mormonism, and revealing the sorrows, sacrifices and sufferings of women in polygamy. At least I don’t have to explain the plot.
Anyway, I recommend it. Don’t read it if you’re a woman and have recently been dicked over by a guy, though. Especially if you own a weapon....more
At the end of 2008 a number of book blogs published their best-of lists, and whenever I had a spare minute I made a point of hunting down the Amazon KAt the end of 2008 a number of book blogs published their best-of lists, and whenever I had a spare minute I made a point of hunting down the Amazon Kindle sample chapters. Netherland came up repeatedly, and when it made the news recently (the president is apparently reading it) I started the sample. By now I was a little tired of back-to-back stories set in 19th century London anyway. (I was surprised to discover it’s possible for me to get sick of them, even if they do have zombies.)
Free sample chapters are, to my mind, the greatest thing about the Kindle, way cooler than e-ink or free wireless. Sampling has changed the way I choose books in the way that digital purchasing changed the way I consume music. I reject more books than I buy after checking out the samples, but I churn through books much more quickly. Amazon doesn’t care which books I buy, as long as I buy many, so this is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Anyway, Netherland was one I bought immediately after finishing the sample. This first-person narrative is told from the point of view of a European expat in contemporary New York. I’m not sure I’ve read much in the way of non-American perspectives on living in the US that weren’t explicitly political or satirical. I’m not a New Yorker either but I’m in the city quite often (I wrote this on the train home from there, in fact), so New York is perpetually both familiar and alien.
I don’t do plot in my writeups, generally, and I won’t start here. The reason to read this book is for its lyricism anyway.
The week before, Jake and I had played in his grandparents’ garden. I raked leaves into piles and he helped me bag the leaves. The leaves were dry and marvelously light. I added armloads to the red and brown and gold crushed in the plastic sack; Jake picked up a single leaf and made a cautious, thrilled deposit. At one point he put on his superhero frown and charged a hillock of leaves. Wading into its harmless fire, he courageously sprawled. “‘Ook, ‘ook!” he screamed as he rolled in the leaves. I looked, and looked, and looked. Fronds of his yellow hair curled out from the hood’s fringe onto his cheeks. He wore his purple quilted jacket, and his thermal khakis with an inch of tartan turnup, and his blue ankle boots with the zip, and the blue sweater with the white boat, and — I knew this because I had dressed him — his train-infested underpants, and the red T-shirt he liked to imagine was a Spider-Man shirt, and Old Navy green socks with rubbery lettering on the soles. We gardened together. I demonstrated how to use a shovel. When I dug up the topsoil, I was taken aback: countless squirming creatures ate and moved and multiplied underfoot. The very ground we stood on was revealed as a kind of ocean, crowded and immeasurable and full of light.