Coming in at just over 400 pages, the book moves at a quick pace despite being chock-full of details. The information is included to simply move the story along—Benjamin manages to keep the plot from becoming too heavy or dramatic. Overall, The Girls in the Picture is a fascinating read, recommended for both film and history buffs interested in the early 20thcentury.
Canadian author Ian Thomas Shaw’s new novel Quill of the Dove proves that a writer’s memory is powerful enough to move laterally and create a searing vision of the contemporary Middle East. Shaw’s evocation of Lebanon, during the Civil War in 1982, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2007, illuminates the tragic consequences of the curve and the asymptote of West and East, never intersecting.
Instead of anthropomorphizing animals, in this collection, people act like animals. There’s a closeness explored between humans and animals, sometimes wild, sometimes their pets. In one story about a young mother addicted to Oxy, she turns her face from her boyfriend’s meanness, “like I’d do with a wild dog, like if I avoided the eyes, that alone would keep it from lunging into me, snapping me at the neck and shaking me dead” (134).
These two books are every bit as powerful, riveting and well done as Gone Girl, just as dark and disturbing, and will sweep readers away from everyday life with their twisted, atmospheric dramas and conflicts—and their shocking, didn’t-see-that-coming endings.
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.
The Stendhal Summer takes the risk of being uncomprehended, yet pays us the compliment of presuming we have lived a little. Thus, mentions of Jean-Louis Barrault, Yves Montand, and Louis Malle’s My Dinner with André (1981), to name just a few examples, either mean something to us or they do not. When they do, they conjure a world of meaning, or an image captured in time, or the tone of a conversation. Such resonances are strange and powerful.
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.