The Lonely City: Adventures in the art of being alone

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Read 28/02/2018-07/03/2018

Rating: 5 stars

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing is more than I expected it to be. I thought I would read some personal reflections on navigating a strange city on your own mixed with a bit of art criticism. Instead, between the pages of this wonderful book, I found understanding, thoughtfulness, sorrow and love. Continue reading

Revolutionary Road

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Read 09/02/2018-21/02/2018

Rating: 5 stars

This is the first Richard Yates novel I’ve read. I own it thanks to the Willoughby Book Club which, once I whittle my to read pile down, I intend to subscribe to again.

My first thoughts were that Yates is an Updike with charm, and that his prose style is the equivalent of Meryl Streep’s acting – a bubbling effervescence lying across hints of darker depths. Revolutionary Road is set at a similar time to Rabbit, Run. Its main male protagonist has similarities to Rabbit Angstrom, but he’s also more mature. Continue reading

Wrong About Japan

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Read 20/09/2017-22/09/2017

Rating: 4 stars

My husband noticed this on the non-fiction shelves in the library. I like Peter Carey’s novels, and a memoir of how he and his teenage son became captivated by manga and anime and travelled to Tokyo to meet artists and directors in each industry sounded interesting. Continue reading

Homegoing

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Read 01/04/2017-07/04/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room March Madness Challenge

Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel is an ambitious one. It charts the lives of two half-sisters from Ghana who have very different experiences of slavery. The book sets off in the 18th century and follows the descendants of each sister to see how slavery impacted on African women depending on the form their slavery took. Continue reading

Faces in the Crowd

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Read 29/07/2016-30/07/2016

Rating: 3 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

A woman trapped in a house in Mexico City is obsessed with Gilberto Owen in an apartment in Harlem with a dead orange tree. Gilberto Owen in an apartment in Harlem with a dead orange tree is obsessed with Emily Dickinson who is a woman trapped in a house. Both the woman and Gilberto see ghosts. Both Gilberto and the woman are ghosts. Both have died many times and go on dying and seeing each other across time. Continue reading

Between the World and Me

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Read 20/07/2016-21/07/2016

Rating: 4 stars

This was a compelling read that hooked me in and made me concentrate. Coates’s logic is lucid, his argument articulate. His analysis of his own experience as a black man and a full history of black experience since slavery began amplified things that I, in my whiteness, think about how black people are treated.

It starts with an incredible declaration. Continue reading

The Marriage Plot

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Read 16/07/2016-19/07/2016

Rating: 4 stars

This book was a delight. The prose fizzed with exuberance. Experiencing Madeleine’s college life, her friendships, her romantic trysts, her wrestling with what to study and why, was like experiencing university again. Madeleine the character as Proustian cake.

Madeleine is confident and secure in her privileged background. She’s a loved daughter. She’s also somehow confident in her parochialism when moving among the aesthetes and pseuds. I warmed to her. She is sarcastic and engaged at the same time as being rudderless. For the first half of the book, she breaks her own rules and changes her perception of herself. She is trying to find out who she is and what she wants. Does she sacrifice herself on the altar of her great love for Leonard? Is that love as great as she thinks it is? Continue reading

The Snow Queen

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Read 02/07/2016-07/07/2016

Rating: 2 stars

LibraryThing review

I’ve now read two books by Michael Cunningham. Is that enough to judge him? I’ve decided that it is. I’ve decided that he has one book, and it is about a man with a flawed-but-worshipped dead mother, a sense of being better than people will acknowledge, a need to be the centre of the universe while sacrificing himself in fake humility, and a falling through a window. It is also a book full of self absorbed bullshit. Continue reading

Uncle Janice

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Read 05/01/2016-08/01/2016

Rating: 4 stars

I only picked Uncle Janice up because I had to read a book for the Winter Scavenger Hunt challenge where one of the characters shared my first name or my initials. Not many book characters are called Janice that I know of, so I took a chance on the first one to come up on my Google search. Matt Burgess has written a quietly revealing book about life as an undercover narcotics cop. I was completely transported and absorbed by the virtual month I spent with Janice Itwaru and her colleagues. I’m interested to read more by Burgess. Continue reading