Sara's Reviews > Yellow Jack

Yellow Jack by Josh Russell
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's review
May 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 21st-century-fiction, historical-fiction

I think the book-jacket comparisons with Madame Bovary and Edgar Allen Poe are a bit overblown, though perhaps not entirely misplaced. This is a creepy, disorienting psychological study. The history is well-researched and represented with lots of texture and detail. The main character manages to be thoroughly disreputable while remaining sympathetic enough that you worry for his future. I especially appreciate (1) how it painted the unique racial and cultural landscape of early 19th-century New Orleans (as it contrasted with the rest of the southeastern United States at that time) and (2) how it chronicles the early history of photography in a manner approaching sociological without hindering the narrative flow. I also love an untrustworthy narrator and a novel, à la Dracula, that tells you a story in pieces from multiple perspectives. Altogether Yellow Jack is an extremely engaging read and may even teach you some history.

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