Michael Engard's Reviews > Starling

Starling by Erin McRae
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it was amazing

Full disclosure: I am not a reader of romance novels. On the rare occasion that I pick one up, I usually know what I'm in for. That's why it's so refreshing and encouraging to see a title like Starling making a stab at raising the level of literary quality and depth of substance in its genre.

The authors have painted a small Whedonesque universe with a carrying capacity well beyond this first installment. Their playful, informal style disguises the thoughtful treatment that each of their characters receives - the novel reads like someone telling you favorite stories about their best friends, and by the end you feel like you know them all just as well (while debating internally whether it would be impolite to ask the burning personal questions on your mind). Paul and Alex, the ascendant couple at the heart of the story, are just two in a surprisingly diverse cast, none of whom would seem out of place in a patented Aaron Sorkin walk-and-talk, or, on occasion, the discordant reverie of an episode of Mad Men.

Most refreshingly, however, the novel's unabashedly romantic heartline is in earnest dialogue with issues of fame, media and social identity in the digital era. Whereas most storytellers seem content to use celebrity's familiar glamour as window dressing, Starling takes an honest and considered point of view on Alex Cook's experience, and his romantic relationship with Paul Keane is given a full and equal role in this discourse, making a convincing presentation of how the universal pursuit of companionship, sincerity and passion takes a unique shape in a world of prodigal stardom that promises everything - and, let's be honest, delivers quite a bit - while at the same time mounting a suffusive assault on one's sense of reality and self-definition. (Mind, in and around this rich narrative are plenty of bits for you to enjoy reading one-handed, so to speak, if that's your appetite.)

You'll be hearing a lot more from these authors. I suggest you get in early.

This review is based on a pre-publication copy of the text.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 10, 2014 – Shelved
September 10, 2014 – Finished Reading

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