Monday, October 23, 2023

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray


Great, heavy, long, witty, and heart-breaking. And somewhat exhausting.

Willie, Dickie's gay, intellectual, brilliant friend at Trinity College, on human resistance to changes humans need to make in order to combat climate change:

... the thought of no longer being ourselves is harder for us to get our head around than the thought of being dead. [507]

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh


Dissatisfying. Long wind-up to a muted violent ending. Moshfegh can write, but to what end? In 1964 a tortured young woman lives with her alcoholic ex-cop father, while she works at a nearby boy's prison. Something rings false about the framing. Told from the woman's first person point of view, but from current time as she recollects the time as an old woman in her 70s, we find out scant things about the present time, and 1960s is sketched out sketchily and not quite believably.

The woman is awful - she hates herself (or at least the old woman hates her younger self remembered) and she hates everyone around her.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead


Really enjoyed this, a three-part cultural history of Harlem in the 1970s, following a furniture-store owner's troubles and triumphs as he dabbles in crime to supplement his income, following in his dead father's footsteps. Everybody knows everybody in Whitehead's Harlem, for good and for bad.

Friday, October 06, 2023

The End of the Road by John Barth

Been several lifetimes ago it seems since I read this as an novel as an undergraduate. Hits differently now. Very bleak, somewhat pedantic -- and yet arresting. The ethical conundrums of a love triangle playing out at a backwater community college in the early 1960s in Wicomico County, MD.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

The Chamber by John Grisham


Good but drawn-out too long. 

Grisham renders in sweeping, intimate-ish fashion the complete scope of the one-month run-up to a former Klu Klux Klanner inmate's execution, after nine years on death-row. A dozen different points of view are used -- but the effect is more broad than deep. All characters seem to think and feel in a similar manner.

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