The week in review: double issue

I forgot to do a weekly recap before I left for Vancouver last week. By “forgot,” I mean, “thought about it but decided to read for half an hour before the drive instead.” CARmul, care-uh-mell.

This Could Hurt went on for a little too long, and had a few too many characters who sort of got lost in the shuffle. With a good edit, this would have been a knockout. Still very much worth a read; I didn’t think I’d be interested in a workplace novel but the writing and characters are very strong.

I usually stay away from memoirs, and I should have stayed away from And Now We Have Everything. I really wanted this to be the unflinching, darkly humorous look at motherhood that it was billed as. Basically, I wanted it to be After Birth, but a memoir. Sadly, this was a real letdown. It’s kind of shallow and repetitive, and the writing is very weak. So much of the “honest” confessional was, “I feel fat.” I’m here for a book that wants to explore motherhood and the body image issues that go with it, but again, this wasn’t it. This really irritated me and the author seemed like kind of a high maintenance nightmare in real life.

I see Leah Hager Cohen’s name mentioned a lot as a favorite of other authors I like, but I’d never read her before. The Grief of Others is definitely the kind of novel I can’t get enough of. Family sagas involving grief and/or infidelity are right in my wheelhouse. This was kind of a mixed bag though. It had great character development, but the story felt more like a situation than a plot. I liked the writing but I’m still kind of mulling this over. It was okay but I wouldn’t really recommend it.

So this is kind of silly, but I’m a little proud of myself for still loving Julian Barnes, because it proves that I don’t just hate all rich old white men. The Only Story was such an odd little book. I love that it is centered on a relationship between a man and a much older woman, because you so very often see the reverse. I wanted to love it just for that; I did like a lot about this, but it kind of went around in circles. It would have been better as a novella or extended short story. It’s pretty short but it still felt stretched.

Oh god, Grist Mill Road. I’ve already put most of it out of my memory. There were some chapters that were okay, but for the most part, this is a total mess. A lot of the characters and dialogue ring so incredibly false, most especially the aging, grizzled, jaded cop character whose scenes are flat out embarrassing. This was such a pointless and dopey book, I almost hate to admit that I read it. Please, learn from my mistakes.

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky feels very much like a love it or hate it, and happy to say that I am loving it. This writer is hilarious and effortlessly insightful. The main characters feel a little flat, and Leda is sometimes hard to like, but it feels like, that’s the point? It reads like a response to the notion that millennials all think they’re special precious snowflakes, and this is like, yeah we’re just okay. I love the okayness of this book. I’m excited to finish this and I firmly hope that nothing really happens. Well played, Jana Casale!

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