Archive | April, 2016

When Your Mother is Not Looking.

26 Apr


An old woman looks back at one day in her youth – a mother’s day – during a time when she was a maid at a large house. With no mother of her own, she slips off to rendezvous with the wealthy young son of a neighboring estate. Think Downton Abbey meets Ian McEwan. It’s short but it really packs a literary punch. 4 stars.

Lilac Laughter of the Five-Star Variety

18 Apr


For the first time in a long time I’ve found one I couldn’t put down. And I’m still thinking about it, which is even better. Tuesday Nights in 1980 is the story of James Bennett, a self-proclaimed “odd duck” of the most brilliant sort. I had never read about synesthesia, but boy does Molly Prentiss do a great job of making it sound amazing and awful at the same time (synesthesia: a condition in which one sense is simultaneously perceived by one or more senses, ie letters or people are also perceived as colors or sounds and so on). Like Nabokov, James Bennett suffers from synesthesia. His wife Marge is a bright and luminous shade of red, a woman at a party has “lilac laughter.” Because of this condition, James finds himself drawn to certain works of art – he FEELS them, is visibly and physically effected by their colors or sounds. And it makes him the most amazing, if odd, art critic in New York City. The second story line of the novel is, maybe not surprisingly, an artist. Raul Engales comes to NYC via Argentina and floats around the art world, pretty much unnoticed. He has an epic mole. He falls in love. And then the stories collide. I really loved this. 5 stars.

Where Polygamy and Evel Knievel Collide

5 Apr

daredevilsDaredevils by Shawn Vestal was given to me with promises of greatness by the Penguin sales rep way back around Christmas time. I had high hopes, as I love a good polygamist story. A good one. This one was, I thought, so good up until the end and then it just got weird and cheapy and fizzled out. Here’s the story: a young Mormon girl becomes the second wife to a controlling older man who runs a bulk order foodstuffs business. His first wife, Ruth, is a tough nut and the new wife, Loretta, struggles to adjust. This part of the story is book club GOLD. I loved it. Alternating with Loretta’s chapters are those of Jason’s, a Mormon of the non-polygamy-practicing sort. He’s obsessed with Evel Knieval and beginning to rebel against the wishes of his stricter/non-daredevil parents. The two stories collide and that’s where things derailed for me. 3 stars.