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Anne Tyler writes about the extraordinary in the ordinary. “Redhead by the Side of the Road” is a beautiful example of her prototypical story telling. Micah Mortimer is in his early forties and his life is just sort of slipping along. “You have to wonder what goes through the mind of a man like Micah Mortimer. He lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone.” Micah’s routine includes an early morning…
Writers & Lovers is a life affirming novel about all that can go wrong and all that can go right in one person’s life. Casey (nee Camila) Peabody is a down on her luck writer, living in a potting shed and working as a waitress at a restaurant near Harvard University called Iris. “I have to eat at the restaurant. I can’t afford more than cereal and noodles.” She is deeply in debt and suffering…
The Glass Hotel wraps a family saga, financial crime and coming of age story all into one novel. Then it throws in a little magical realism for extra effect! The novel begins at the end, with Vincent falling to her death from a ship. Ironically, Vincent’s mother had died years before while canoeing. Thus begins (or ends) the family saga! As a child, Vincent lived with her father in remote Caiette British Columbia. The only…
“You will wake some morning and pat yourself down. You will realise that you think too much and live too little and that most people, men and women both, are mostly fine. You will love more easily and relinquish blame. At least I hope you will.” “Actress” is the story, at least in part, of Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah FitzMaurice. Norah is almost 59 years old at the time she is…
“Simon the Fiddler” is a corny love story–boy meets girl, boy pines over girl and against all odds, boy gets girl. And yet, there is something visceral and enjoyable about the story and the way it is unfolds.  The story itself describes characters who grow, love and find meaning in the midst of difficult conditions, and is written in a smooth straight forward style that is just right for this peculiar time in history. Simon…
“Weather” is a very short, observational stream of consciousness. The story and the narrator’s musings reflect  those weird thoughts and dysfunctional relationships we all have (I think). Lizzie is a middle aged, married, mother of one who is keenly aware of aging and the peculiarities of the world around her. Lizzie works in the library of a university, a job procured for her by her friend and former university professor Sylvia. Sylvia is a rather…
The Mirror & The Light is the story of Thomas Cromwell and King Henry from May 20, 1536 through July 28, 1540. The novel, which begins with a beheading and ends with a beheading, is the final novel in Mantel’s trilogy chronicling Thomas Cromwell’s rise and fall. Since it is a historical novel, with some liberties and fictional characters thrown in, I am going to assume you do not need to be warned about spoiler…
Lost Children Archive is a complex novel involving sensory perception through sound and echo. The novel focuses on a family of four—husband, wife, boy girl. No names. Husband and wife met four years before the story begins, when they were recording a soundscape together in New York City. They were part of a large team of people working for New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. The project was intended “to sample and…
The Resisters is a complex dystopian story envisioning the consequences of an authoritarian technology dependent future. And yet, the story involves baseball! The story begins with Gwen. As a baby, Gwen “threw her stuffed animals straight through her bedroom doorway. They shot out, never so much as grazing the door frame, and they always hit the wall of the staircase across from her bedroom at a certain spot…”. Gwen had a golden arm. Gwen’s parents,…
Red at the Bone is about the complexities of love, youth, parenthood and unsatisfied expectations. When beautiful Iris becomes pregnant at the age of 15, not only is her life turned upside down, but the lives of her mother, Sabe, her father, Sammy Po‘Boy Simmons and her boyfriend, Aubrey Daniels, are thrust into turmoil. The novel describes each person’s reaction to the pregnancy and the arrival of Melody into their lives and gives the reader…