Tuesday, December 08, 2009

52 books in 52 weeks

33. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Sigh...I'm not getting the accolades. I am a huge Lorrie Moore fan, but this novel did not do it for me at all. It took many, many pages to emerge from a somewhat boring beginning and never quite seemed to find its purpose. Of course, because it's Lorrie Moore, there were sentences of quirky, startling insight, but not as many as I would have liked. However, if the praise for this novel leads to more rapid release of another, then that's fine by me.

34. A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-first Century by Cristina Nehring

I love anyone who dares to point out that twenty-first century heterosexual relationships are suffering at best, totally fukakte at worst. Nehring doesn't explicitly state she's focused on male-female connections, but her use of literary and historical examples of this type imply it. She attributes this contemporary dilemma to a denial of much of the emotional currency that supported the traditional romantic economy. Is everything she says reasonable? Not necessarily, but at least she's saying it.

35. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

I grew up in Massachusetts and took summer vacations in Maine, so I hoped the settings would charm me, regardless of any other narrative element. No such luck. This book wasn't painful to read and the second half was much more engaging, but I didn't really connect with any of the characters in this character-driven novel. There is one successful scene of absurdity that seems out of place, but it is also the most memorable section of the story.

36. Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

I can't quite believe this is my first Doctorow novel, but there it is. I enjoyed this quick read that fictionalizes the story of New York's most famous hoarders, the Collyer Brothers. There's a mild Forrest Gump-like narrative arc that shows the brothers responding to different monumental events of the twentieth century. I questioned whether the idiosyncratic recluses would have never had a fight (really?), but the men and their increasingly cluttered home were effectively evoked.

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