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Search tags: American-literature
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review 2018-02-10 11:00
An Ex-Soldier Finding His Way at University: Bells Above Greens by David Xavier
Bells Above Greens - David Xavier

Here's a review of light young adult fiction for a change:

 

Sam Conry is nineteen, but he has already seen a lot since he was a soldier in the Korean War for nine months and he lost his admired older brother. Now he is back to the USA and he meets the girl whom his brother wished to present to him as a surprise... and his fiancée. After the summer Sam resumes his studies at the University of Notre Dame where also his late brother's girlfriend Elle is a student at St. Mary's College. Sam drifts through student life - confused and without direction.

 

You'd like to know more? Find my review here on my book blog Edith's Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2016-12-12 19:24
Another Brooklyn
Another Brooklyn: A Novel - Jacqueline Woodson

The story is good, but it's really the writing that makes it magnificent.

The book is written in a wistful sort of way and kind of rambles sometimes and keeps the reader in that feeling of being in her stream of consciousness. Its poetic in the way that it discusses some of the harder topics, like the denial we can experience in childhood about what's going on in the world or that hides truths we can't handle yet. I loved the way her mind wandered sometimes from one thing to another and how it effected the way that she remembered things.

Most of all, I love that it was a true story of the lives of girls. Each girl is different, but they all go through those things that all girls go through. They deal with those things that we deal with and Woodson uses that poetic style to include these things without dwelling on them or having to describe them in unnecessary detail. Her writing lets you really feel the story in a way that is unusual. I appreciate writing in a way that walks the reading through that feeling of things we remember rather than life as it happens. I also enjoyed this way of writing with The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness.

The path of each girl wasn't unexpected, though I didn't know which would go which way and there were several others to choose from. This is just the way of things, down to the ways they drifted together and apart. This will be one of those books that could easily be used to describe the way of life at the time it is set. I wouldn't even say specifically for the place that it was set because the lives of the girls are relatable to just about every group of girls I've ever known. It's late 20th century America in the city. There are some truths that may keep it out of high school classrooms, but I could easily see it brought into the college American Literature class. I would certainly use it. This and her memoir written in poetry, Brown Girl Dreaming.

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review 2016-04-23 11:00
The Original Babbitt Who Always Swims With the Tide: Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Babbitt - Sinclair Lewis

In the USA the word "Babbitt" has become synonymous for Philistine, thus for "a self-satisfied person who conforms readily to conventional, middle-class ideas and ideals, especially of business and material success" (babbitt. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/babbitt [accessed: April 22, 2015]). But how many of those who use the word know that it's actually the title of a novel and the name of its protagonist?

 

Babbitt was first published in 1922 and without doubt it must be called an important classic of American literature. Its author was Sinclair Lewis who would eight years later, in 1930, be the first US American recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. And yet, I'm led to believe that these days the novel isn't widely read anymore, if not forgotten by the great majority. What better reason to take it from my shelf and give it more than just a quick glance to see what it has to offer to a reader in the twenty-first century.

 

In fact, Babbitt is a novel that seems to me very up-to-date. It touches on many issues of our modern world, e.g. on the unhealthy craving for constant progress and growth, on globalisation = standardisation = uniformity, on the meaninglessness of life, on conformity and exclusion, on mid-life crises, on escape through entertainment,... I reviewed the novel at length on my other book blog – just click here to read what I wrote about it on Edith's Miscellany.

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2016-01-02 11:00
A Man Passed by Time: The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck,Susan Shillinglaw

The topic of John Steinbeck's final novel is amazingly acute today although it was first published more than fifty years ago... it's a novel revolving around morals in a money-centred modern world.

 

The Winter of Our Discontent is the story of a good and honest man who finds his morals corrupted by the requirements and habits of post-war America where virtually everything seems permitted to achieve financial wealth and social status. The protagonist clings to his high moral standards passed on to him by his forefathers, but his family's yearning for wealth and prestige forces him to think over his attitude and thus plunges him into a deep inner conflict.

 

I invite you to follow the link and read my long review on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany or its duplicate on Read the Nobels!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2014-05-13 16:54
You Should Seriously Read "Stoner" Right Now
Stoner - John Edward Williams

"As a fictional hero, William Stoner will have to dwell in obscurity forever. But that, too, is our destiny. Our most profound acts of virtue and vice, of heroism and villainy, will be known by only those closest to us and forgotten soon enough. Even our deepest feelings will, for the most part, lay concealed within the vault of our hearts. Much of the reason we construct garish fantasies of fame is to distract ourselves from these painful truths. We confess so much to so many, as if by these disclosures we might escape the terror of confronting our hidden selves. What makes “Stoner” such a radical work of art is that it portrays this confrontation not as a tragedy, but the essential source of our redemption."

 

(From New York Times, May 11, 2014)

 

 

I read Stoner back in 2009, and here's the review I wrote at the time:

 

"A moving story, but also awfully depressing. I had a hard time continuing on at points, especially when the author made it so clear that better things could have happened. After following the main character through his life though, I was sad to see how it all came to an end."

 

Perhaps I'll re-read it sometime, especially after reading this piece about it.  I just don't know if I need something potentially depressing right now.

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