Friday, January 4, 2013


These subjective imressions should not be taken for proper reviews. Like Michelin rated restaurants *** is best in my opinion.

The ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach ***  Moby Dick-themed names: Harpooners, Skrimshander, Starblind, Pella (as in pelagic perhaps). The rich, meaty characters are still with me. Sporty bits are easily skipped without losing the pedals.

The SHIPPING NEWS by Annie Proulx *** Proulx’s writing is like a graphic novel without the graphics; bright pictures leap from her words, glow in your brain and sometimes make you laugh or break your heart. 
L’ELEGANCE DU HERRISON by Muriel Barbery *** Wonderful study of the unexpectedly intellectual and sensual life of a Parisian concierge.
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY by John Le Carré *** Intricate plot, brilliantly flawed characters: Smiley, Haydon, Connie Sachs and creative spy terms: moles, joes, lamplighters, mothers etc.. My favorite writer by far, he deserves a Nobel Prize.
A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU de Marcel Proust. Edition française complète, 10 tomes augmentée, illustrée et commentée *** (Commentary based on the first tome and a half.) Immobility imposed by asthma gave Proust the time to study his family and surroundings at great length. His languid writing is a lot funnier than expected and resembles a Persian miniature with its tiny  details of people and places. Long, stately phrases studded with jewel-like images, wit and well-observed pettiness and snobbery. Slow-motion passion.               
A HANDMAID’S TALE – by Margaret Atwood ** Beautifully crafted dystopia, compelling characters, slightly spoiled, for me, by the rather clinical ending.
DEEP DOWN (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child ** Short, sharp action-packed sentences make Jack a bright boy.
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green ** The un-sentimental voices of young cancer patients Hazel Grace and Augustus are clear,  instantly endearing and inspiring.
The CHEMISTRY OF TEARS by Peter Carey ** Grief and all its ramifications. Not one of Carey’s most colorful but definitely readable.
NEVER MIND, BAD NEWS, SOME HOPE, MOTHER’S MILK by Patrick Melrose ** The mighty struggle to deal with the consequences of casual cruelty, these books are medals and gold stars, tributes to courageous battles that are seldom acknowledged let alone rewarded.
EXTREMEMLY LOUD and INCREDIBLY CLOSE by Jonathan Safran Foer * Yet another Holden Caulfield-inspired voice of a boy in Manhattan struggling to come to terms with his father’s death in the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.
FROM A BUICK 8 by Stephen King * Stephen King makes you believe that a Buick is the gates of hell spitting out malformed monsters and evil smells. The characters are not quite as interesting as the car.
The CASUAL VACANCY by JK Rowling – I’m a huge fan of what Rowling has accomplished for reading, her fairy tale success, her quirky personality and the inventiveness of the Harry Potter books, but this book bored the pants off me. I didn’t care about any of the characters apart from grotesquely tragic Krystal. Relentless sordidness is as dull as happy endings.
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES by John Kennedy Toole – This large work was rejected by so many people that the author sadly committed suicide before it was published. I really wanted to like it but found the characters and actions un-compelling. Did not finish.
The HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins – Did not finish.
The CLASSMATE MURDERS by Bob Moats – Did not finish.
BEL CANTO by Anne Patchett – Did not finish.