Comparisons aside, Jamie and Girl from Blind River stand on their own as remarkable achievements in popular literature. Gale Massey has a poet’s eye for the telling detail, and can evoke a feeling with a few deftly written words. Readers don’t need to be told Jamie is poor after Massey has her searching “the remaining pizza boxes until she found a piece of crust and chewed it while she watched the [poker] hand play out.”
The book is wonderfully informed by multiple metaphorical depictions of our inner and outer struggles. Young Marcus loses his mother, his only parent, and goes to live with his eccentric and spiritually bruised great Aunt Charlotte on a small island in South Carolina at the beginning of the summer. Aunt Charlotte has past wounds that haunt her, rendering her a reclusive but renowned local painter.
The A to Z of Normal, by British author Helen Barbour, is a “relationship novel,” but has more to say than a romance, or a “chick lit” book. Readers like to learn while being entertained, and in this novel, Ms. Barbour gently educates us about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and deserves praise for recognizing the dramatic potential in a subject seldom-explored in fiction.
The Buried Giant is not an easy book. Its simple prose belies the complexity of the narrative, and the multiple layers of meaning as Ishiguro presents us with extremes that are equally unpalatable, and both of which could well be seen as the modern condition. At times, the fog is enough to engulf the reader, and the work seems to be as obscure in its meaning as the location of Beatrice and Axl’s son’s village.
Readers enjoy seeing the triumph of an underdog, particularly one who has been good to her persecutors and has given them a second chance to treat her decently. Rosalie Ham’s witty writing and clever structure make this novel exceptional. The division of the book into four sections: Gingham, Shantung, Felt and Brocade, is not just a cute way of furthering the sewing motif; rather, the names are symbolic.
I very much enjoyed Toby Ball’s novel, the way his snappy prose propelled the story forward, making everything both more convoluted and clearer at once. He conjured up a vital, bustling sense of place.
The world of Maddaddam is harsh and often ugly world – particularly the Painballers – a group of criminals who have survived their Hunger Games style imprisonment a number of times and have lost their ‘humanity’ in the process. However, in spite of some pretty gruesome episodes, ultimately the story is a redemptive and satisfying one. The Craker’s naivety is charming, and beyond Toby and Zeb, the characters are delightfully Dickenesque – turning to fizz, flirting in scientific jargon, and cooking up a storm with weeds and lab-grown splices.
Too many novels depict a woman in the arts accepting limited or no success in her field, because she has given herself up to romance, child-rearing or an unproductive bohemian lifestyle. It is refreshing that Dez escapes these fates.
The Book reads very quickly. This is not just because it’s only 154 pages of reasonably spaced text, but also because Bonnie’s voice drives the story along as we try to understand, from her perspective, the multiple relationships that surround her…
There are many other Nayman hilarities. The sentient kitchen, for example, is so possessive that if a human tries to boil an egg ‘it turns the heat up so much you could melt a pavement.’ Science too gets the treatment.…