I read fast when I’m loving something, and even faster when I’m hating something. So we have a lot to cover this week.
Last week, I was hating Sourdough, and I continued to hate it all the way to the end. I never read Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but lots of reviews claim it’s essentially the same plot as Sourdough, except the first book is about a man going from working in tech to working in a bookstore, and the second one is about a woman going from tech to making bread. So I will stay annoyed about this book for gender reasons, but also it was really boring and had an annoying writing style and the main character’s only personality trait was being named Lois. I probably would have liked his other book better but I’m too annoyed to ever read him again.
Happily moved on from there to Pachinko. I. Loved. This. Book. Oh man, this was so good. This is exactly what a multi-generational saga should be. I was totally fascinated by the history of Koreans living in Japan and all the issues of race and class throughout the last century; I didn’t know anything about this topic going in, and it was very very interesting. The characters and their relationships are so well done here, even the most minor characters pack such an emotional punch. And I might still be crying over Mozasu, world’s greatest character. This book was a gift.
Nowhere to go but down from there, and down I went. I was pretty disappointed in Release, even though my hopes weren’t even that high. This is like Mrs Dalloway, but with a teenage boy, I guess? IDK, I don’t remember that much about Mrs Dalloway other than it being a day in the life novel. That storyline was okay at best, but there was also an alternate plot that was about a ghost and a faun (?) and it did not work for me at all. I love magical realism when it’s done well, but this was not.
Things got worse. I was a little nervous going into Class Mom, because it looked like it would either be hilarious, or really dumb. I had been cautiously optimistic until I looked at the blurbs on the back cover and realized that there was not one actual author on there. I usually find that looking at what authors provided blurbs for a book give you a pretty good sense of the caliber of the writing, and the fact that one of the blurbs on this one comes from the global admin of babycenter.com was not a good sign. This whole book feels like listening to really crappy comedians who blame the audience for being too uptight to laugh at their edgy material but really they are just not funny. There is nothing more painful than someone this unfunny. Actually, an infected plantar wart is more painful, but that’s it. So the pain hierarchy goes: infected plantar wart, this book, childbirth. The End.
Can only go up from there! Such a roller coaster of a week. I’m halfway through Chemistry now, and I love it. I love the spare writing style and I super love this narrator. Unless things go really south in part 2, this is going to turn out to be a perfect little gem of a book. Fingers crossed!