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Category: Books

Wo Man Booker

Two women won the 2019 Man Booker Prize. Margaret Atwood for The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other. Can we now finally do away with other women-only literary lists?

The Dutch House

by Ann Patchett. Danny is the narrator. And the least formed character. The brother of Maeve, son of Elna & Cyril, husband of Celeste, father of May and Kevin. An uncurious boy and man who seems to sleep-walk through a traumatic life. Even when he finds himself it is as his father’s son, his sister’s keeper, his daughter’s admirer. His wife is peripheral. A fatalistic life with little redemption. Forgiveness without cause. It left me angry that this central male protagonist was portrayed as such a two-dimensional person. Why did… Read more The Dutch House

Once Upon A River

by Diane Setterfield. I love a long meandering story. As long as it’s good. The river metaphor held throughout. Brilliantly crafted. A community of people who frequent The Swan, an Inn in Northern England along the Thames. Its currents are both forces and characters of their own. The telling is more interesting than the plot, which gets wrapped up too neatly and seems contrived at the end. But. At its best, this novel recollects The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, in its rich description of a discreet place with mystical undertones.… Read more Once Upon A River

The Uninvited Guests

by Sadie Jones. An author with a jaundiced view of life. This book is ironically laugh out loud funny. A madcap Twilight Zone. Jones also seems to have a love of old “piles”. Here a cherished country manor called Sterne in a remote English setting. As in Laurence? Anyway, despite a rationale for her character, the mother was horrid. As was the mother in Jones’ most recent The Snakes. Most of the men are fuzzy and wishy-washy. The women are conflicted yet strong. A bit retro. The train wreck is… Read more The Uninvited Guests

Good Riddance

by Elinor Lipman. A poor guy from a small New Hampshire town gets a bad rap. He’s an unwitting love-struck kid who shows a great deal of civility toward the woman he loves and her family. Yet they heap unwarranted vitriol on him. So there’s that. Then. Father and daughter end up in New York City four blocks apart in Hell’s Kitchen. They become enmeshed in each other’s sex lives. Yuck. Jeremy, a character on “Riverdale” has some spunk. Lots of dog-walking and poop-scooping. Oh. And there’s the central intrigue… Read more Good Riddance

Chances Are . . .

by Richard Russo. Pre-ordered as soon as I heard Russo had a new novel coming out. Couldn’t wait. Got it. Read it. If I didn’t see his name on the cover, this could have been written by any generic author this season. Disappointing. It did not have the rich descriptions of Russo’s classics like Empire Falls or even recently That Old Cape Magic. If he ever went to Martha’s Vineyard, it was clearly as a visitor. There was no depth of scene as in Upstate New York or even The… Read more Chances Are . . .

Longlist 2019

2019 MANBOOKER LONGLIST The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Canada)/ Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry (Ireland)/ My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK-Nigeria)/ Ducks Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (USA-UK)/ Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo (UK)/ The Wall by John Lanchester (UK)/ The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy (UK)/ Lost Children Archive by Valeria LuiselliĀ (Mexico-Italy)/ An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)/ Lanny by Max Porter (UK)/ Quichotte by Salman Rushdie (UK-India)/ 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World by Elif Shafak (UK-Turkey)/… Read more Longlist 2019

Lock Every Door

by Riley Sager. Apologies to Ira Levin. Guessed the plot a third of the way in. And. As an homage to Rosemary’s Baby in a faux Dakota building, not even close. None of the spine-tingling psychological characterizations. More a Rogue’s gallery of two-dimensional caricatures. A touristy terror tale of Central Park West and the Park. So. Very summer light.