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text 2016-10-31 20:09
My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante,Ann Goldstein

I picked this up at a used book sale about a week before the storm over the possible revelation of Ferrante's identity. I am still thinking about whether or not I care who the author "really" is, but the controversy reminded me to read the book. Which is extremely masterful: precise and detailed yet fluid and absorbing. Minutely observed psychology, arresting narrative that kept me reading. 


But for most of the book, even though I couldn't put it down, I kept asking myself whether I loved the book. It's so well crafted, I thought to myself, but is this a book that I'm going to keep thinking about when it's done?


But the final chapters, culminating in the high tensions and dramas of a wedding in their fractured small town, simply blew me away. And two weeks after I finished it, I can say definitively that I have not stopped thinking about it. I love this book, although I love it with a slow burn rather than the rapid flare I associate with a good story.

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text 2016-05-25 22:09
The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle

This was a super-fast and engrossing read. I never could get into Lovecraft's stories, but I liked Victor Lavalle's Big Machine, so I figured I'd enjoy his take on Lovecraft's mythos. Even better: the story is packed with vivid description of Harlem during its Renaissance as well as its eldritch horrors, which are far more convincingly horrible than I recall from the source material. Plus, there is a gut-wrenching, take-no-prisoners callout to present day police violence, and I am here for it.

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review 2016-03-30 15:34
The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck

Riveting and brutal. I can't believe I haven't read this book before now!

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review 2016-03-30 15:06
The Marriage of Elinor - Margaret Oliphant

I was far more swept up in the drama of this 19th-century novel than I expected to be! I enjoy a good old-fashioned marriage plot, but Margaret Oliphant has a tendency to do a marriage plot with a slightly misandrist twist. The twist, here, is that Elinor marries a sexy man and won't listen to anyone's criticism of her choice. The sexy man turns out to be pretty terrible, so... spoiler... she leaves him! With their son! And she won't listen to anyone's criticism of that choice, either! Elinor 100% does what she wants and takes no guff about it. And, although she has her fair share of struggles, everything turns out more or less. No karmic punishments for this BAMF. 

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review 2016-02-29 15:11
Unbecoming: A Novel - Rebecca Scherm

A book created in a lab for me:

A nice Southern girl struggles with fitting in when she moves to NYC, becomes both knowledgeable and cynical about art

So much art history, so much

This is a suspenseful book, you're always tensed up waiting for another shoe to drop

Elaborate, almost implausible heist plans!

More art history? How about lots of minutely detailed descriptions of furniture and jewelry!


In short, it's an art history mystery that also makes some very sharp observations about cultural and class differences, about family and romantic relationships, and about the muddiness of ethics. I drank it up. 

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