RaveBookreporter... [a] simple beauty and heartfelt emotional journey ... Scottoline’s scholarship has inflected every vowel and consonant in this gripping, thrilling tale of lives on the brink of countless changes. The characters are so beautifully fleshed out that you feel as if you are reading someone’s family memoir ... The love affair and the biased world views are both multidimensional and balanced together in a magnificent achievement of literary construction. Perhaps Scottoline’s hard-earned research helped her see a more complete picture of the two worlds, one exterior and one interior, but both are damaging and challenging. Elisabetta, Marco and Sandro share a stage that is swift and ever-changing, which makes Eternal a truly outstanding work of historical fiction ... May the scholarship and literary invention of this extraordinary novel find a home in the hearts of readers everywhere.
RaveBookreporter... a collection of short stories that, in one way or another, continues the unique and harnessed imaginative wanderings of one of the greatest minds of world literature ... The bizarre headspace that Murakami puts you in will feel right at home for those of us who have been hanging on every word he has ever written (yes, I’m a longtime fan). For those of you who have not yet discovered the magic and furor of his wild mind, First Person Singular will present the perfect opportunity for the two of you to get acquainted. In short, brilliantly sharpened strokes, you, too, will fall under the spell of his literary madness. This is the Area 51 of modern world literature --- there are secrets that you have heard of, but do you really believe them? Try it and find out. You won’t be sorry ... yet another exciting adventure with one of literature’s greatest adventurers. Enjoy in small doses, and celebrate that Murakami continues to grace us all with such singularly thoughtful work.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
RaveBookreporterThe Committed is a shiny pearl of a novel that carries on this story ... With humor and pathos intact, Nguyen puts the pedal to the metal. If you have spent a distinct chunk of time learning how to breathe to slow down your anxious, racing heart during the pandemic, you will have to utilize your new skills to get through this rapid-fire, violent, funny and terrifying bumper car collision of colonialism, communism and capitalism ... This sounds like a dark, moody book with a lot of posturing about political identity, oppression, the evils of colonialism, and the corruption of the freewheeling renegade consumer culture. However, it reads like a thriller ... Once again, Nguyen entertains, teaches, queries and thrills his readers with a story that touches so many of the hot coals of the firepit that is the persistence of identification and memory ... Nguyen is an awesome storyteller, and this is a book for the ages. Enjoy this rollercoaster ride of a story.
RaveBookreporter... as dense as it is light and is a poetic magic trick that will delight [Atwood\'s] legion of fans, old and new alike ... Love poems about zombies? Yes, she went there. Enchanting lilting tributes of women who have been raped and murdered? Yes, she went there. In fact, I found myself reading Dearly to discover who she was writing about --- someone she really knows or someone she has invented to be almost real to us ... These poems are forthright and brave, yet beautiful in their hard-told truths. But they also give you the creeps because she is talking about both things that actually exist in the world that we see every day and things that we don’t necessarily notice but are there, just under the surface. The latter hide from us, waiting for us to fall down some rabbit hole where we will be face to face with them, and no mask or goggles can keep us safe from their difficult wisdom ... I recommend Dearly especially to those who only recently have become fans of Atwood’s work. The Grand Dame has so many surprises up her sleeves and on the bookstore shelves for you. You will be amazed at the hurricanes that live underneath the seemingly clear waves of words that will wash over you on an afternoon’s read ... As another lockdown feels near, hold this volume dear for the trips it will take you on while you hunker down on the home front.
RaveBookreporter... gives you an around-the-world view of masculinity, both gentle and toxic ... Krauss is first and foremost a novelist who writes short stories as if they are scenes from a novel that she didn’t have the energy to finish. Like a series of one-act plays, we get the expurgated histories and concerns of a myriad of characters who are trying their hardest to define their experiences as men or with men in various times of life. Her keen eye for detail keeps us interested in the many different protagonists and the switch-ups between first-person and third-person narratives throughout the collection. Sexuality, religion and elaborate cultures give us the framework for these failing or ailing relationships. It is a compendium of insights that would feel at home in a poetry journal or a psychology newsletter ... Each of the stories feels like a civil war between rationality and emotionality ... Krauss’ poetic craft operates at such a high level that it keeps readers thinking about the last group of humans while moving gratefully into a new tale with hope that these people will fare better than the last ... Like a wonderful omnibus, the wide range of experiences and dramatic repartee in these stories offers a scintillating and emotionally intense read that won’t soon be forgotten.
Bobbie Ann Mason
PositiveBookreportera series of letters in the midst of Ann’s fantastical ideas about where her life could have gone. This format gives Bobbie Ann Mason a chance to concoct a sweet love story but also wrestle with the possibilities of the road not taken, as well as the chance to find a gold ticket in what is real ... The ’60s, the music, the drugs, the clothing, the ideas are all so enticing, and even the inclusion of the hard facts about the Vietnam War gives the era a sheen of glowing perfection that seems wrong for Ann’s Kentucky upbringing (her mother’s letters to her about life back on the farm are interspersed with the other letters she uses to create a timeline). It feels as if there is a depth missing here in place of gentle reflection and surface-area fantasy. However, Mason does a good job of accessing the actual past and editing it to make the most impact on her characters ... a perfect book for quarantine as we think about what has been, what will now not be, and what we now most hope for in all of our lives.
PositiveBookreporterVolckmer walks a precipice in razor-sharp shoes, digging in on the difficult stuff and infusing the most dangerous and, frankly, disgusting thoughts (sex with Hitler, anyone?) with a humor that keeps you reading even as you are not sure you want to do so ... The frank discussion of sex (particularly about penises and their uses), especially as it relates to the German world before, during and after Hitler’s regime, is off-putting at times. The fantasies our heroine has in reference to the despot are unnerving, and there is little actual sensuality related when it comes to the fantasies or her real-life encounters ... The fact that Volckmer cannot find a German publisher to publish this novel speaks volumes. The intersectionality of cultural identity, gender and self-identity is not for the squeamish. It is interesting, given that Germany is so very good at contextualizing its history in order to move forward and not fall prey to such despicable politics and social order, that the narrator can only think about the example of Nazi propaganda, the death camps and the unspeakable horrors of that time in a sexual fantasy. This makes it feel like a very millennial story to me, as personal and sexual freedom and identity is the revolution for the twentysomething generation. But regardless of the age of the narrator, her disturbing rants make for some very compelling reading ... Not for the lighthearted reader, The Appointment is a treatise on how the culture in which we grow up affects every aspect of our life as an adult, as much as our parents or teachers or loved ones do. This is a very short book, but is long on ideas to ponder well beyond the last word.
PositiveBookreporter.comIn the Midst of Winter is another example of the beautiful prose of this remarkable strong woman, activist and writer whose every tome seems to only deepen our respect for her talent and wisdom ...a time travel novel that slips back and forth between very specific places and periods, and weaves together a compelling story of present-day Brooklyn, Guatemala in the near past, and Chile and Brazil in the tumultuous 1970s ...an integrative storyline that pulls the reader in deeper and deeper as more and more details are divulged. The story is complicated and messy –– there are no easy answers or endings to any of their struggles ...a timeless tale of coming together... Allende is poetic, filling her book with a light and savory prose that belies its intense political undertones and thus makes it a very readable story.