There is a chance –a very good chance, I'd add –that I just don't really like funny jokes. The Hemon pacing, the beauty and horror of his work is stilThere is a chance – a very good chance, I'd add – that I just don't really like funny jokes. The Hemon pacing, the beauty and horror of his work is still there. And it was nice to see him choose a protagonist from the North shore, for nothing if not the sheer difference of it.
But the Zombie Wars script never really did it for me, and of course the Bosnians are the scene stealers — I'm fascinated by Bega's denouement compared to other Hemon characters, and indeed Bega is the most interesting character in the book. Except for maybe Ana.
I'm glad I read it, and there are beautiful passages, but it's not my favorite work by Hemon. I'm simply not sure if that says more about me or him....more
On one hand this is a book that's about frailty and loss in a Mieville-esque dystopic St. Louis. There's a terrifying sort of Teutonic militarized/ChrOn one hand this is a book that's about frailty and loss in a Mieville-esque dystopic St. Louis. There's a terrifying sort of Teutonic militarized/Christinanized city state in permanent early March that everything takes place in, and it's just absolutely wonderful.
On the other hand, it's the sort of book with a Calvino epigram that really wants you to know how arch and intelligent it is and how pathetic its main character is. Like Gary Shteyngart was tasked to write a narrative in this incredible city.
Lundgren's love for the Midwest shines through the book, and its the parts where he's talking about the joys of a bleak, unescapable, home that are great. The father/son scenes are touching. And I'm all about having an unloveable protagonist, but having him so aggressively unlikeable made it a bit thin. It's like we're taking the least interesting angle of a book with its least interesting character.
Which is all a bit more negative than I really need to be. It was a really fun read just to see how surreal this vision of the midwest would be. Lundgren created this incredible world that was fun to live in, even if it didn't have the greatest host....more
One day you wander up a tall hill, half for the view and half for what you’ll see next. On top of that hill you find a book store, squat on a corner anOne day you wander up a tall hill, half for the view and half for what you’ll see next. On top of that hill you find a book store, squat on a corner and with an open door. In that book store you look for something new. A woman’s voice you don’t recognize, a story you’ve never heard. But something familiar, you think, as your eyes settle on a paperback decorated with birds. A story from a place you visited as a child. A place that made you want to grow up, promising a story of intrigue. History and sabotage and maybe true love. So you pick up the book. And you read it in one fell swoop. And good golly it is just one terrible book. ...more
Definitely a rough commute read! But Greene's book is a vicious modernist novel, contrasting spare prose with a story of faith in the tropics.
It's a bDefinitely a rough commute read! But Greene's book is a vicious modernist novel, contrasting spare prose with a story of faith in the tropics.
It's a bear to read. Greene's style is between the more-famous Hemingway and McCarthy, but not nearly as overwrought as either of them. It's simply a beautifully-paced book about a lone man's struggles with himself, his community, his state, and with God...without having any pretensions of being anything more than that.
Reading this at a time when I'm trying to remember how to write with style and with emotion, it's absolutely beautiful reading something written with style and emotion. I have to refind a writing style and a reading style, and even if the troubling bleakness of Greene's world is probably not what I need 20 pages at-a-time on a train, it's nice to be grounded in something between spending my days overhearing gamer convos. There's something else out there, thankfully. Even if the something else isn't particularly pleasant....more
It's I guess a pretty decent history of Turkey from ~1898-1950, and there are some great little tidbits in there about the first Turkish beauty queen,It's I guess a pretty decent history of Turkey from ~1898-1950, and there are some great little tidbits in there about the first Turkish beauty queen, retired eunuchs, and other empire-to-nationalism desiderata.
But it's one thing to talk about a largely international city, and another to just ignore non-English sources. It's really frustrating to read about how all these spy networks, refugees, and other bits of the world come to Istanbul, but have the actual city they live in and the laws they work around as nothing as a backdrop. This was especially obvious in the final third, where the book focuses on the Holocaust and refugees, but only mentions Turkish government actions (and inactions) tangentially, when they interacted the protagonist.
It works in fiction, since we care about the protagonist and all. But when the book is nominally a history of a city, it's a bit silly to make the city simply background for people around for 40-50 pages. It makes what would otherwise be a good history into Paris, Je t'Aime.
So between starting out with "Anatolian carpet" analogies and....that, it's not great. There's some good tidbits in there, but that's no reason to go through 380+ pages. Which is a bummer, since a lot of good people worked on this book....more
If "detective is tasked by the Church to investigate a fairy tale that takes place in Albania" doesn't do it for you, I don't know what will. This isIf "detective is tasked by the Church to investigate a fairy tale that takes place in Albania" doesn't do it for you, I don't know what will. This is a very good book....more
I'm biased, obviously, but it's great to read a book about Cincinnati and have it be about Cincinnati. The anthology is a couple dozen different storiI'm biased, obviously, but it's great to read a book about Cincinnati and have it be about Cincinnati. The anthology is a couple dozen different stories, photographs, other weird things about the city.
For someone like me who has never lived IN Cincinnati but is in a weird way a child of Cincinnati, it's great to read about the city that I am a lot about but never really learned about. And even though there's a lot of issues with diversity of viewpoints and opinions in the book, it's generally very good (and obvious that Ms. McQuade tried very hard) to get as much different stuff going on in the book as possible.
It would be interesting to get a "true" Cincinnatians idea of it, but I'm not sure everyone in the book is a true Cincinnatian. For an Ohio River Nationalist like me, it was a great read on what the city is and what it might be trying to be....more
I really enjoyed Absurdistan and thought that I would like this too, but this earlier Shteyngart book isn't quite as weird as Absurdistan even thoughI really enjoyed Absurdistan and thought that I would like this too, but this earlier Shteyngart book isn't quite as weird as Absurdistan even though it hits the same notes.
The story is about a Russian immigrant to the US trying to be American, which in the 1990s means going to Prague (called "Prava" here) and trying to be literary. Since this is Shteyngart, it involves cockamamie schemes, overweight people, and mothers.
There's lots of enviable prose and hilarious situations, but the book -- like the main character -- seems not quite as sure of itself as it pretends. The more absurd parts of the book fall flat, even if they help the more heartfelt parts feel, well, heartfelt. Overall, though, I just couldn't invest as much as I was being asked to invest in the name of a few chuckles, mocking of Ohio, and the Great American Normality....more