I tend to enjoy books with quirky, even oddball plots. This nove (a Man Booker candidate last year, but only now making it stateside), sounds to work with just such a plot: A German theater set designer in the 1930′s chases some tail to America and somehow becomes involved in a CalTech professor who is working on creating a teleportation device. As Smith describes it is sounds to me like a cross between The Great Gatsby and one of my favorite books of the past few years, Skippy Dies. “It’s rare for a book to stimulate the brain cells and the funny bone with equal gusto,” raves Smith, which is praise enough for me. Definitely looking further into this one.
Dunno about this one. It could just as easily turn out to be sappy pap as it could be good. But for whatever reason I’m a sucker for epistolary novels, and I adore Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. So this novel, loosely based on the famous somewhat-involved friendship between Flannery and poet Robert Lowell, is one I can’t really go without mentioning here. Given my current press for time, I’m probably going to have to sit this one out unless I start hearing more people talking about it. But if you’re interested the review is worth a glance.
Jodi Picoult can go fuck herself. Seriously, grab hands with NH’s other inexplicably prolific hack writer Dan Brown and jump off the rocky cliff that used to be the Old Man of the Mountain. I know, I know this is a Holocaust book, so I’m automatically a dick for denouncing it. But this is a Holocaust book that–like pretty much all the other books by Picoult and authors of her ilk,–reeks of overplotting and emotional oversaturation while in all likelyhood intended for adults yet written at a novice reading level. Oh, and she wrote it concurrently with another book, which even she describes as a “light, fluffy fairytale.” Probably the perfect thing to combo with the Holocaust for a ping-pong writing session.
As easy as it is to bemoan facile books like Picoult’s as part of a larger dumbification of books that is perhaps most easily recognizable in the cash grab for poorly written supernatural YA books that are probably read by more older adults than young ones, it’s encouraging to see at the same time books actually intended for YA audiences take the genre in mature and more literary directions. Look no further than this novel, which tackles the very heavy subject of teen suicide with a Groundhog Day approach. But rather cheapening the subject matter or, worse, being preachy, Galloway appears to handle it with grace:
It isn’t the usual supernatural wish-fulfillment adventure, or an anti-suicide lecture in narrative form; it’s an honest, aching character study that captures small-town life and small-town despair, and takes both to an intriguing extreme.
I’ve been reading an even larger amount of YA lately in my quest for fresh lesson plan material. You can definitely look forward to a C4 review of this one soon.