Sunday, December 21, 2014


These subjective impressions (↑ Mmm to ↓ Ugh)
should not be taken for proper reviews. 

THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt
↑ ↑ ↑ This huge book won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and deserved it if only for length and complexity. Lots of action: an explosion, a coming-of-age unrequited love story, secondary characters more interesting than the protagonist, theft, travel, guns and, of course, Carel Fabritius’s real painting that can be seen at the Mauritshuis in the Hague. I enjoyed it and did finish it, by the way. 

THE BAT (A Harry Hole Novel) by Jo Nesbo  ↓ – As much as I wanted to love Jo Nesbo, I didn’t.

THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt  ↑ ↑ ↑
The characters in this book are more vivid than those in The Goldfinch. Slow, deliberate narrative with expertly planted bits of back-story to hold the suspense. Very Crime-and-Punishment.

THE CIRCLE by Dave Eggers
↑ ↑ - Dave Eggers writes so well the eye just slides over the page like butter on a lobster. This is a cautionary tale about providing too much information to social media. Not one of his best but written, I feel, in anger and dread for what we’re getting ourselves into.

THE IMPERFECTIONISTS by Tom Rachman – ↑ ↑ ↑ Loved these aromatic Roman stories written by a former journalist stationed in Rome. The characters are alive with irrationality, ambition, drive, oddness. Food and drink are mentioned often as they should be in a book set in Italy. An altogether delicious book.

↑ ↑ - Meaty debut crime novel introducing brave and tortured DI Marnie Rome and a terrible villain we look forward to unpacking in subsequent books. Surprises and twists although I did guess the biggest twist because of the way the first two thumped me upside the head. Layered, well-constructed and the first of a series.

WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed 

↓ ↓ ↓ – A very disappointing book. Yet another self-indulgent tale of a woman trying to avoid dealing with life’s problems and expecting a medal for walking along a trail with a big backpack and not even the wit to lighten it allegorically as she goes along.

HEART SONGS and Other Stories by Annie Proulx 
↑ ↑ ↑ - Austere stories of suffering and malice from wonderful Annie Proulx who knows how to write about the big stuff. No vapid sniveling and whining here. "Stong's eyes shone like those of a greedy barn cat who had learned to fry mice in butter." (from HEART SONGS) There is a stunningly evocative description of running water and reeds in the The WER-TROUT story.

POSTCARDS by Annie Proulx
↑ ↑ ↑ - The postcards are sent by Loyal Blood to his family. He's run away after accidently killing his woman and hiding her body in a stone wall. Searing, high definition writing.

Edition française complète, 10 tomes augmentée, illustrée et commentée
↑ ↑ ↑  -  I spent most of 2014 continuing to wade through this massive tome. Halfway through, I find the protagonist pathalogically observant, sharply funny and his lush, extravagant writing is certainly worth the effort. Sometimes a sentence is two pages long with only two commas! If you want to understand the French, this is the manual.

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