The chain of events that follow set off a list of moral and psychological issues for the characters, but readers will likely find themselves questioning what they would do in a similar situation.
The yarn Sandoval spins of their lives, instead, would make an HBO show-runner proud. Death, love, and food are never too far from each other; episodes of powerful yearning, comical justice, and occasional violence replace each other at a cinematic pace.
What Reykjavík does get absolutely right is the Russian regime’s century-long predilection for poisoning its critics, dissidents and traitors. Arkadi Vaksberg’s meticulous history The Poison Laboratory: From Lenin to Putin (Gallimard) details the state’s expertise at home and abroad in silencing its enemies, all the way from Lenin’s order in 1921 to create a poison laboratory.
Inspired by these true events and the impact on his life, author David Sklar—an emergency physician, researcher, and professor—writes from the heart and the mind with a broad scope as he tells his story. The author states that he too was subjected to the nude photography and somatotyping as part of a so-called research project while a student at an elite New Hampshire prep school.
It is entertaining for anyone familiar with the works it lovingly skewers (note the culinary metaphor) and it is strangely compelling even if, like me, you haven’t read Conrad for a long time. It is quietly witty and also serious. It manages to borrow something of the gravitas of Conrad’s novel and – like all good parody – it makes you want to return to the original for a fresh look.
The narrative presents a deftly crafted tale relating the journey of a young woman who manages to face, accept and overcome what many would believe to be an impossible childhood. Periods of normalcy are interspersed with periods that are anything but normal, receiving and unexpectedly having pets given away, or left behind, left on her own way too often by both her Mother and Wolf cause Fiona to do much of the raising of herself.
Comedy is often no laughing matter. It requires a great deal of talent and hard work to get it right, much of it collaborative. It is notoriously difficult to perform. It is a medium that is often undervalued and misperceived as trivial or mere entertainment. When it’s bad it’s bad; when it’s good, we are so busy laughing that we cannot reflect about it afterwards.
Despite its often bleak outlook, Normal People is a hopeful book, and though the trajectory of Connell and Marianne is often painful at times, intellect and emotion pulling in opposite direction, Normal People is a powerful read that not only provides insight into the young, modern mind, but also which provides a classic thematic in a modernistic, tight and compelling format.
The clock dance in Anne Tyler’s new novel originates with three pre-teen girls who line up behind each other and move their arms like the hands of a clock. Time flies; life is short, too short to be stalled in a negative pattern left over from childhood, especially if you are sixty-one years old, as is the protagonist, Willa.
Lyrical and solemn, The Shades underscores the sense of meaninglessness that follows the death of a family member. Through its piecemeal narration that takes readers through various perspectives, the novel’s characters never quite seem to move past what has happened—instead, it is as though they swim eternally in their own fear of death.