Tag Archives: Fiction – Novel

Last year’s comebacks

I got caught in a lot of hype last year, mostly of the for-the-comeback variety: Good authors who’d taken their sweet time coming out with a new book, good authors who’ve just kept on writing but managed to hit the sweeter spot this time around. I have this notion about myself that I steer clear of hype, because it’s just the publishing world lying to me, but this is obviously flawed thinking. And so I like to console myself that the comeback-hype is the better kind of hype to fall prey to—one that has basis, plus the odds are with you because you know that it’s worked for you before? It’s more infectious, too: The hype was more of the bookish internet slaying everyone with a celebratory cheer: Marisha Pessl had a new book, Donna Tartt had a new book, J.K. Rowling kicked everyone’s asses and proved she still had a good book under her belt, Stephen King wouldn’t fucking relent and just kept getting better. [Continue reading.]



There remains shame in bewailing one’s difficulty with reading—never mind that stepping into books has always been a salve, a sanctuary for my sanity, my exhausted-with-feeling soul—more so the overwhelming gladness that a semblance of a reading life has returned, in light of all that’s happened. This is the shift, I suppose, when one belongs to a nation in mourning: Everything shall be [must be] held against that light. [Continue reading.]

Quid pro quos

Important things are always at stake in NOS4A2. That’s what makes it so damned brave and satisfying, and truly horrifying. Beyond the creepy children trapped in Christmasland, more than Charlie Manx’s vendetta against Vic McQueen and the pocket of horror he’d built for himself in Christmasland, more than his sidekick who stretches the boundaries of what true inhumanity could signify, more than the fact that this book never ever pulled any punches with its oh so very damaged heroine—the disquiet and utter terror one finds in NOS4A2 is the truth that you will always have something to lose, no matter how firmly you’ve convinced yourself that nothing good has remained in you, of you, for you. [Continue reading.]

Three notes on Galbraith

I had not realized I was looking for proof (the kind I could attest to) of J.K. Rowling’s hand in The Cuckoo’s Calling—published (and I daresay written) under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith—until I found it. There it was, something familiar, a reassurance. Once I’d found it, I let what semblance of a literary hunt there was in my head, and fully threw myself into Robert Galbraith’s vastly confident story. (At the back of my mind, though, there remained with every turn of the page: Pride for what Rowling had accomplished, pride at the pride she must have felt when something came to life once again under her hand.) [Continue reading.]

Redundancy, as love story

The draw of The Thorn and the Blossom—helpfully subtitled, “A Two-Sided Love Story”—is its physicality. The cover—that is, the box/case—is strikingly lush (and I have a barely-curbed fondness for floral, as my linen can attest to); the book itself is in an accordion-fold binding, all the better to tell the mirrored stories; Scott McKowen has four illustrations simulating woodcut prints, all the better to evoke the medieval-tale overtones that the novel tries so very hard to push forward. That is: Theodora Goss’ novel is foremost an object, a very beautiful one—and that’s it. [Continue reading.]

Working with the cliché

I welcomed The Rosie Project because it knew it was working with a cliché, and it dug within that cliché for some human adorababbleness. It knew the limitations set by the trope, and had fun with it anyway—in the process delivering a completely absorbing book about an absolutely fascinating man trying to figure out this Human Interaction business. The Rosie Project is, essentially, a cliché that worked well. It makes one thankful for clichés, really, and for authors who know what to do with them. Augh. Goddammit, I really enjoyed reading this goddamned book. [Continue reading.]

Rowell round-up

I have read three of Rainbow Rowell’s books. They were good, I suppose. Some were better than others, I’m more certain. There were, quite absolutely, a lot of Feels being thrown about. Where’s the humanity in that, Miss Rowell? [Continue reading.]

“More vivid kinds of goodness.”

When I closed the book, it was as if I’d been cut adrift. Having been submerged so intensely in Charlotte Brontë—to have cared, again, and always so immensely, for Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester—to have realized something about myself and about the small, still Janet—and then having to return to the real world. Returning to the real world and my mind realigning to look upon landscapes as stormy moors, to look upon clusterfucks as madwomen in my attic. To spy Blanche Ingrams and Mrs. Reeds and St. Johns and scolding my brain whenever it strays towards what Rochesters this world has to offer. And to look upon that book now closed and replaced on the bedside table, waiting for the next time I’ll read it again as though it were the first time, as though it was just another marker in this long-and-longest bibliophiliac constancy. [Continue reading.]

Clean slate

Apologies in advance for whatever craziness you may find in the post that follows. I’m feeling a little strange—I’m running on a cocktail of painkillers and antibiotics and the threat of ache and sleeplessness and worry. (Nothing strange about all that, though, except for the antibiotics.) (I need to go visit my grandfather in the hospital [he was rushed there this morning, pneumonia, goodness, our hearts can’t take this anymore], and I need to let the haze pass, and so now I’m sitting in a café with too much sunlight and too much people, and I’m hoping the relevant parts of my brain align at the soonest.) [Continue reading.]

Approximating normal

I’ve been—knock on wood—sailing calmer waters lately. Sure, my ever-lengthening list of gripes remains handy, but the clusterfucks are at a manageable, if not tolerable, level. I’m only able to articulate this now, actually—at the close of a day that’s oddly restful despite the terrible weather and the work that comes with it; at the close of a weekend that was fun and the happy kind of exhausting, give or take a few grumbles from my frail, mortal body. I’m in a good mood, if only because I’m not in a foul mood. Yeah, that’s cheery. Here’s another: The reading’s picking up, if only because the reading actually exists. [Continue reading.]