2011's Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction caught me off guard. It's a generous sampling of names loosely affiliated within the music industry; publicis2011's Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction caught me off guard. It's a generous sampling of names loosely affiliated within the music industry; publicists, producers, musicians, journalists, etc, all battling themselves and the biggest goon of all, time.
Egan's novel has a genius formatting: it's versatile in it's 'short stories as a novel' of the Olive Kitteridge or The Imperfectionists variety, certainly. Throw in a magazine article and the slideshow chapter, and you have a concise example of post-modern fiction less intimidating than the likes of Danieleski and his House of Leaves.
The shaping of so many characters stories is done so artfully, that until the final segment, you still aren't positive of where it's all going. You see them interacting within the different circuits, and watch it come together, yet returning to the spot it began at... it's tricky and brilliant!
I loved that so much of the novel was based on perseverance and adapting to time's changes. I won't try to articulate how special that is.
Alex imagined walking into her apartment and finding himself still there- his young self, full of schemes and high standards, with nothing decided yet. The fantasy imbued him with careening hope. He pushed the buzzer again, and as more seconds passed, Alex felt a gradual draining loss. The whole crazy pantomime collapsed and blew away.
By the end of this novel, you're amazed by what has been painted of the music industry, individuals, and the passage of time. It's deeply affecting....more
Laughing Boy is an elegantly written love story, vast in its emotional substance. There was a poignant moment in every chapter. I love it when such aLaughing Boy is an elegantly written love story, vast in its emotional substance. There was a poignant moment in every chapter. I love it when such a little novel can be so loaded. Young love for Laughing Boy and Slim Girl deftly mirrors the struggling relationship between the Navajo reservations and the modernizing Americans; the thin string that it all hangs so delicately from. La Farge writes with confidence and clarity. I will have to read this book again!...more
Harding shows a lot of promise in this emotional smoothie of memory and retribution. I found the layering of father/son stories made George's loss ofHarding shows a lot of promise in this emotional smoothie of memory and retribution. I found the layering of father/son stories made George's loss of his father so much more harrowing and tragic, yet made Howard (George's father) so much more heroic in his final act (the final few pages). The organization of these father/son moments and the 'at random' descriptions clock mechanisms, birds nest, etc made this a beautifully confusing glimpse at life's final thoughts....more
Stafford quickly endeared me to her style, despite a few fairly overused phrases that she favored. There were of course a few stand outs, and a few thStafford quickly endeared me to her style, despite a few fairly overused phrases that she favored. There were of course a few stand outs, and a few that I practically skimmed; but over all Stafford touches on loneliness and isolation, while keeping broad in terms of environments. The American-ness of this collection (ah, the Pulitzers) reminded me somewhat of Fitzgerald, in it's celebration of differences (even when it seemed that Stafford wasn't comfortable in these abnormalities and eccentricities).
This will be the last book of '09 that I read... tra-la-la....more
I will never say that I enjoyed this series of novels, but the final installment in Rabbit's life made the series very rewarding. Updike's an amazingI will never say that I enjoyed this series of novels, but the final installment in Rabbit's life made the series very rewarding. Updike's an amazing writer. He captures so many social dynamics; Mt. Judge and Brewer are true American towns, successfully fleshed out with real people. The first two novels were so focused on Rabbit Angstrom specifically that I felt his selfishness and ego were overdone; but through the eyes of his family and friends, so much more an active component of his life, the portrait of the man becomes a richer experience, full of the dynamics and complications that all relationships entail. Yes, Rabbit is probably the meanest, jerkiest dude in literature. Updike continues to let you into his protagonist's psyche without flinching away from any thought, fantasy, or misdeed. That's what makes these novels a rewarding experience; four decades of a guy's life, of American history....more
**spoiler alert** Harry Angstrom is still a git. He needs a swift punch to the gut... although it probably wouldn't change much. Three books with Updi**spoiler alert** Harry Angstrom is still a git. He needs a swift punch to the gut... although it probably wouldn't change much. Three books with Updike's selfish, cowardly protagonist amounts to three decades Rabbit-time, and the only thing that's getting me through this series of novels is the writing. The third installment of the Rabbit novels very much merits the Pulitzer because of the amazing fullness of the relationships developed between Rabbit and his immediate family, as well as the more enhanced sense of timing that sets such a specific era around the plot.
I think on first read you can be struck by how much of a horrid person Harry Angstrom is; but as he gets a tad less ego-centric in his old age, the scope of the novel expands, becoming a frighteningly realistic portrait of American politics and white suburbia at the end of the 1970s. I think that sense of timing has improved this particular novel of the series; the period and it's politics seems a more integral part of what is happening to the Angstroms.
Rabbit is thoughtless in his discriminating, snobby tendencies, and leaves no question of society unmolested by his bitter, grumpy thoughts. That's the thing with Updike; he covers pretty much every little thing that a guy could think of in this novel, giving unparalleled insight and really crafting an incredibly whole family, however dysfunctional: drugs, swinging, mid-life crisis, parental resentment, etc. Updike isn't shy about fleshing out Rabbit's deepest thoughts, and while you may hate the guy, I can't help but step back from this novel and be floored by how it all makes for such an intense portrait of an American family. I'm glad Updike kept the whole family so involved in this installment. Nelson is such a mirror to how Harry was in the first, offering brilliant perspective. All said and done, this feels worthy of the Pulitzer, as opposed to the previous two testosterone-propelled adventures....more
This novel was beautiful. I flew through it, despite work and family issues mostly because of the two sisters... once I got far enough into the novelThis novel was beautiful. I flew through it, despite work and family issues mostly because of the two sisters... once I got far enough into the novel that it was a staggering of either of the girls' letters, I just didn't want it to end. The sensitivity that was given to Celie despite all that she suffered makes her probably one of my favourite literary figures....more
I've been told before that I needed to read Roth, and I may have never gotten around to it... if, again, it wasn't for my Pulitzer Prize endeavor. MyI've been told before that I needed to read Roth, and I may have never gotten around to it... if, again, it wasn't for my Pulitzer Prize endeavor. My only complaint is the role of Nathan Zuckerman as the narrator for the first (I guess) half of the book, although I appreciate his role as a witness to the Swede's facade and picturesque past. I'll be interested in reading the other 'Zuckerman' novels, though.
I think the discussions of terrorism, violence, and politics in the novel bring up a lot of issues relative to our own times. As far as children who grow to be fundamentalists, and the cultures that raise these children, our generations experiences with the Oklahoma City Bomber, Columbine shooters, and Muslim extremists like the Taliban have incited media debates over blame and responsibility in the familial base, and on a communal scale; but Roth's novel narrates a parent's inward debate as to fault, and left me feeling somewhat guilty for a family like that. After all, Roth's portrait of the Swede's Norman Rockwell-esque childhood in post-war New Jersey gave the reader hope for our protagonist, filled you with Zuckerman's pride in this All-American couple. The rant's of Roth and his impassioned detail for all of the Swede's and Zuckerman's remembrances made the downward spiral of the Swede's composure that much more tragic....more
Taylor's novel reminded me of The Optimist's Daughter. I wasn't floored by that novel either, but at least the protagonist's emotional outbursts at tTaylor's novel reminded me of The Optimist's Daughter. I wasn't floored by that novel either, but at least the protagonist's emotional outbursts at the end of that novel gave me some sort of emotional connection to the plot; Taylor's did not. Indeed, his controlled and clinical account of his dealings with his sisters' and father I think dearly hurt the novel. Any one dealing with the slow deterioration of a family member, and watching their siblings manipulate that elderly person, would be at upset enough to merit some sort of emotive response. However much I enjoyed the conversational descriptions of this Tennessee family's life and culture, I really don't plan on reading any more Taylor... not if he's this bland....more
I truly believe this to be one of the most fundamentally correct portrayals of the American experience... the disappointments, complaints, and strugglI truly believe this to be one of the most fundamentally correct portrayals of the American experience... the disappointments, complaints, and struggles of Olive and fellows capture the essence of the day to day issues facing millions today, as we all in our ways strive to live up to or accomplish our own idyllic Americana. The sadness that permeates each page went straight to my core; each story is personal entirely because of the faults within these characters, however large or small the problems facing this cast seem to be. Olive's journey to appreciating her life with Henry cut me to the core. This really needs to become require reading, if not for high school students, then college American literature. The quality of the novel's structure (the short story approach to the chapters) enlarged the emotional scope with clarity, as if you were peering into different windows within the same home....more
I wasn't knocked out of my socks, but it was enjoyable enough. Laurel's character was what got me through the novel; she's a fairly resilient woman, yI wasn't knocked out of my socks, but it was enjoyable enough. Laurel's character was what got me through the novel; she's a fairly resilient woman, yet amazingly sentimental. There are no emotional outbursts until the very end, when her strength breaks momentarily against her step mother. It's an interesting little read....more