Monday, February 27, 2023

Anyone Who Had a Heart by Burt Bacharach with Robert Greenfield


Assumption by Percival Everett

 Liked it but got lost at the end. Sort of Jim Thompson crossed with Thomas McGuane. Down on his luck deputy sheriff in New Mexico grows increasingly despondent and bitter while investigating seemingly unrelated murders.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Continental Drift by Russell Banks


Mesmerizingly beautiful. How the fates of a New Hampshire oil furnace repairman and a distressed Haitian new mother intertwine over the course of years. Tectonically growing closer to each other. I'm in awe of Banks. Reminds me of Updike a little, but with more heart.

The Haitian religious ceremonies rendered are completely unhinged and terrifying. Mostly in the Haitian Creole patois, they involved demonic possession, animal sacrifice, rhythmic music and dance, but Banks provides them with an unnerving logic and character relevance.

He doesn't know if he has been a good man or merely a stupid or scared man. Most people, like Bob, unchurched since childhood, now and then reach that point of not knowing... [60]

... the three children and mother become one unit, and he became a solitary, outriding, secondary unit, like a comet accidentally passing through their solar system and moving on into deep space alone. [273]

So Much Blue by Percival Everett


My obsession continues. Another good, took awhile to get going for me, but in the end, I really liked how three different time settings/plots came together. A painter takes a much younger lover in Paris, remembers a long-ago trauma in El Salvador, and somehow heals his marriage.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Telephone by Percival Everett

My Percival Everett journey continues. Another twist in the road: TELEPHONE is an unflinching story of a man losing his 10 year old daughter to a deadly medical condition that slowly over a couple of months destroys her mind.

Not for the faint of heart.

At the same time, the father receives mysterious messages of distress in shirts he orders online, and takes off to New Mexico to attempt a rescue.


Very different in feel from THE TREES and DR. NO, but Everett's intelligence and obsession with, well, everything, shine through.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Mother for Dinner by Shalom Auslander

Very funny, very black, very disturbing satiric novel about the race of "Cannibal-Americans," or "Can-Ams," the death of a Can-Am matriarch, and the struggles of her thirteen children to properly dispose of her remains.
See title.

Sending up the immigrant experience in America, tribal religions, and the family, it's hilarious and upsetting.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Foregone by Russell Banks

 Terrific, moving, mysterious. An American film-maker consents to a documentary ostensibly about his career in Canada making films after dodging the Vietnam War draft and escaping north. Instead, he spends several hours relating, sometimes out loud, and sometimes internally, the mixed up pieces of his past and his emotional reckoning of how and why he had lived.

But it was her memoir, not theirs, her memories, not theirs. And if all her memories were self-serving rationalizations of behavior that, seen in another's light, 
would seem stupid, narcissistic or superficial, in her own view her memories were redemptive. They revealed the reasons for her life of pain and suffering and confusion. They made sense of an otherwise incomprehensible, meaningless life and, in her own eyes, redeemed it.

Is that why Fife is trying to do? Tell his autobiography as he remembers it? Yes, he says, that is what he's trying to do today and tomorrow and for however long he is trying to tell it. [136]

Korsakoff syndrome: confabulation is a symptom, fairly common with advanced alcoholism. [238]

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