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Memento Park

by Mark Sarvas. A beautifully crafted storytelling device trumps a lackluster story. Matt Santos tells his story telepathically to an overnight guard at the auction house where a valuable painting he’s unexpectedly inherited awaits sale. Matt Santos is the anglicized name of the son of Hungarian Jewish immigrants who discovers he’s the recipient of a newly discovered art treasure. The painting was taken during WWII under the Nazi’s and has been discovered at the National Gallery and traced to Matt’s holocaust survivor family. His father has rejected the work and… Read more Memento Park

A Double Life

by Flynn Berry. Arrested Snow Flake Development. This English woman who becomes a general physician is stuck in her childhood in more ways than her obsession with a murder of the past. She has limited maturity and seems to think like a young girl, hard to fathom that she could get through med school. Her interactions and investigations are fraught with self-centered magical thinking. I did like Berry’s voice for the most part, but the ending was just a modern day hackneyed snow flake job. It was okay until the… Read more A Double Life

The Banker’s Wife

by Cristina Alger. A formulaic quick beach read. Loose connection to current events and a lack of depth about international banking. Travelogue of touristy European landmarks. Flimsy mystery with two women protagonists who are superficial stereotypes and barely distinguishable. And. Please. Don’t translate French or Spanish from the Google. Not idiomatically correct. Are all the editors at the beach, too?

Dystopia & Disruption

Man Booker Longlist announced today. Dystopia and Disruption. Signs of the times to be sure. But. I want to escape all that. It’s clearly a good year for Canada’s Michael Ondaatje. His 1992 The English Patient won the Golden prize for the best work of fiction in the past five decades. Warlight made this year’s list. I didn’t love it as much as one of my all time faves, The Cat’s Table. Not sure about the others on the list. In general, not the most upbeat subject matter. So.

Empire Falls Revisited

One of Book Trek’s favorite authors, Richard Russo’s essay in today’s New York Times discusses how difficult it has been and remains to write about school shootings. Russo’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Empire Falls was published after Columbine, yet was written years before. It culminated in a scene in the local high school where a lone bullied boy turns his anger on classmates. Since then that scenario is all too common with little changed in the character of the shooter or reasons for his alienation. Broken Record Alert! Until America Loves… Read more Empire Falls Revisited

The Only Story

by Julian Barnes. Love as Albatross. Exhausting self-indulgent pompous musings on “love”. If this is love, it’s the most masochistic self-loathing version of it ever written. I did get through it despite it becoming more ponderous and plodding as it went so slowly and depressingly along. Wow. Alcoholism aside. Martini. Please!

Cruise Prose

Michael Ian Black’s recent New York Times column cemented my decision to never take a cruise. So Uncool, It’s Cool. Not. He liked the mindless ordinariness. All I could focus on were the stairs, elevators and confining crowded decks, “surrounded by a thousand fleshy strangers in swimsuits”,   yuk!  Everything I thought bad seems to be true. However, he linked a 1997 essay by David Foster Wallace, Shipping Out, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Wallace’s solo adventure on the megaliner Zenith, which he dubbed the Nadir. It was one of… Read more Cruise Prose