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Real Life
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice. A novel of rare emotional power that excavates the social intricacies of a late-summer weekend--and a lifetime of buried pain. Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends--some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with a young straight man, conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community. Real Life is a gut punch of a novel, a story that asks if it's ever really possible to overcome our private wounds and buried histories--and at what cost.
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ChaoticMissAdventures
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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#pridebookrec #fictionweek
I love these characters. This book is amazing, character driven, complex, rich and deep storytelling with an edge of trauma and violence. The writing is engrossing and I often had to sit with my feelings at places.

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Suet624
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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“…a woman with a tight, mean face, dark hair, green eyes, lots of freckles, skin like an aging banana peel.”

That sentence stumped me. Skin like an aging banana peel? Certainly a creative description but I have no idea what that would look like.

Dilara Lots of liver spots?😒🤔 8mo
Suet624 ohhhh... yeah, I guess that's right. I have liver spots though and now I have to imagine I look like an aging banana peel. Great. :) 8mo
Megabooks This is an odd sentence… 8mo
See All 7 Comments
Suet624 @Megabooks Thank you for confirming ... I didn't know if it was just me. 🙄 8mo
BarbaraBB It‘s odd indeed. But I loved the book. 8mo
Suet624 @BarbaraBB I‘m still trying to figure out how I feel about the book. I‘m waiting to write my review because I don‘t want to write yet another grumpy review. 8mo
BarbaraBB Haha why not? They‘re often more interesting to read (not yours specifically but in general)! A bit like Tolstoj on happy families 😉❤️ 8mo
51 likes7 comments
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MidnightBookGirl
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Wallace is an outsider in his own life- kept at bay and held to a role that he doesn't fit but that works for the people he works with and his “friends“. He deals with micro-aggressions (and honestly, flat out aggression- Dana, I'm looking at you) on the daily, and he spends most of his time on the fringes of his friend group. When he and a friend have an encounter that sparks attraction, a long and intense weekend follow.
#Readin22 #bookclub

49 likes1 comment
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Eggbeater
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

This book was an emotionally intense read. I've rarely ever felt so deeply for a character in my reading experience as I did for Wallace. The world is not worthy of him. Trigger warnings for everything. The injustice, the microagressions, the flat-out abuse, and he just carries on. His friends are all ignorant. It made me think.

BarbaraBB I loved this one too. 12mo
batsy Great review. This book was a gut punch. 12mo
58 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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BarbaraBB
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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#BookReport 47/21

I had a good week! Loved the tagged one and also Intimacies. Doha and the Winman were okay reads for me.

EmilyM I just finished Still Life and liked it but felt like it dragged in places. I'm not sure the last part about Forester was even necessary, or maybe I missed something? 1y
Megabooks Just broke down and ordered the kitmura! 1y
Cinfhen I don‘t think Winman is for me, I bailed on still life and I didn‘t love Tin Man the way others on Litsy did 🤷🏼‍♀️ 1y
BarbaraBB @Cinfhen I LOVED Tin Man but didn‘t care much for 1y
72 likes4 comments
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BarbaraBB
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Why do people hurt eachother so much? And themselves? Why being so hard on yourself and one another? This book is real life. Not mine, but it feels so real. Wallace does and my heart goes out to him. The loneliness of the black gay boy trying to fit in the the white Midwest. Hiding in science. All that anger and the feeling of not being worthy of love. All the misunderstandings but also the tenderness. The book touched me deeply. #bookspin #pop21

Megabooks This was fantastic! Glad you enjoyed it, too! 1y
Cinfhen I need to try again with this book! I started the audio last summer but I wasn‘t feeling it 1y
alisiakae 2020 was such a cluster**** that I'm only now learning which book one the Booker Prize! Which prompt did you fill for this one? 1y
See All 17 Comments
BarbaraBB @4thhouseontheleft I forgot to mention: dark academia. I didn‘t realize it was shortlisted for the Booker in 2020 either! But it‘s worth it. Very good! 1y
BarbaraBB @Cinfhen It‘s fantastic. You must really try again! 1y
BarbaraBB @Megabooks So happy you nudged me in reading it. I had it sitting in my shelves for over a year, but man it‘s good. Very emotional 😭 🖤 1y
alisiakae @BarbaraBB oh, now I see the tiny print that says shortlisted! And I'm off to look up who won. 😃 1y
TheAromaofBooks Great progress!! 1y
BarbaraBB @4thhouseontheleft I think Shuggie Bain but I‘m not even sure. This one is better though 🙃 1y
KarenUK Lovely review. I recently read this one and loved it…. 1y
BarbaraBB @KarenUK I was thinking about that one. Is it as good? And did you receive my parcel yet? 1y
KarenUK Really liked the linked stories…. I believe I have…. Hubby has been hiding parcels!!!! @BarbaraBB 1y
BarbaraBB @KarenUK I hope so 🤞🏽🤞🏽😘 1y
CarolynM Lovely review, Barbara. This book was hard on my heart too💔 1y
Reggie You can go back on all the reviews and see me ask this but where do you see Wallace in 10 years? Great review, btw. I just wanted to hug Wallace all through the book. 1y
Hooked_on_books I LOVED this one! 1y
BarbaraBB @Reggie I wanted that too! Huggin Wallace! I was told that Brandon Taylor now lives a happy life in NYC and I think Wallace must have been autobiographical don‘t you think? 1y
79 likes2 stack adds17 comments
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BarbaraBB
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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#WeeklyForecast 45/21

Today I finished the 2 books I was reading and now I‘m unsure what to pick up. I‘m thinking of the tagged one but I also have to start The Diviners for the #manawakans buddyread as well as School for Love for the #NYRBbookClub. And now that I‘m writing this I realize I forgot to add #DrZ for #DecemberChill, which I really must start too. So much required reading makes me unmotivated and escaping in a podcast 🤫😇

TrishB Yep 😁 1y
Cinfhen I hear ya!!! 1y
LeahBergen I know! I have to quit with the “required reading” for a while. 😆 1y
Cathythoughts I hear you too 👍🏻👍🏻😬 1y
Suet624 Required reading is a bit of a showstopper. 1y
67 likes5 comments
review
vlwelser
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

This is beautifully written. Kevin R. Free is the #audiobook narrator and he does a great job, though I couldn't help comparing this to Murderbot as a result. And they are nothing a like. This takes place over a summer weekend and centers around a group of grad students who are basically starting to question everything in their lives, past, present and future. I'm making it sound boring but it really isn't.

Graywacke I loved this. ! 1y
38 likes1 comment
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BaBaBaBillyAndTheBooks
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Panpan

Wallace, a biochem student from Alabama, hates it at his midwest university, and who can blame him? He‘s in a story where nothing happens and every conversation — between co-workers, lovers, or “friends” — is an over-sensitive fight about feeling ignored. There‘s no drama here — nobody wants anything interesting — unless you count constant arguing. Wallace takes 300 pages deciding if he wants to leave. For me, the decision is way too easy.

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DebbieGrillo
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Bailedbailed

I DNFed this one. Couldn't get through all the science jargon.

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Kshakal
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks 🐦 ❤️📚 1y
Eggs Well done 👍🏼 1y
30 likes2 comments
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Rissreads
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

This was such an amazing book, it portrays living a life built on trauma so well. The past trauma becomes like a poison in Wallace‘s body and it affects him physically and emotionally. My stomach was in knots for most of it. I could feel Wallace‘s exhaustion with his world, the constant up hill battles. The racism both at work and with his friends. I think Wallace will stay with me for a while.

CarolynM I liked this one a lot too🙂 1y
35 likes1 stack add1 comment
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janeycanuck
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

I get the hype but maybe I just wasn't in the right place? I struggled with some of Wallace's history and was generally annoyed by most of the secondary characters.

#audiopuzzling

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Megabooks
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

This novel examines sexuality and race through the lens of a group of science graduate students. The more I roll this in my head the more I mull its casual and intimate violence. There‘s the jealousy and destruction of lab experiments, the “casual” attempt to break up a friend‘s relationship, tossed off racial microaggressions, and a lot of rough sex. A very thought-provoking novel worthy of its Booker nomination.

BarbaraBB It sounds fantastic. 2y
charl08 Not one on my radar, but sounds intriguing. 2y
Cinfhen I tried this on audio last year and it wasn‘t working for me / I think it‘s one I‘m just gonna take a pass on 2y
See All 14 Comments
Megabooks @BarbaraBB i definitely think you‘ll like this! 2y
Megabooks @charl08 it really was quite interesting. 2y
Megabooks @Cinfhen yeah, I can‘t see you liking this one. I think you made the right decision. 👍🏻 2y
ChristinasBookChronicles I started this one. I need to get caught up in my buddy reads so I can get back to it. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. 2y
Megabooks @ChristinasBookChronicles yes, it‘s definitely worth finishing once you get caught up! 👍🏻 2y
Reggie I ask everyone this- where do you think Wallace is 10 years from now? Great review by the way. 2y
Megabooks @Reggie thank you! 🤞🏻 not with Miller! I know people tend to repeat life patterns, but I‘d like to think he‘s gotten counseling for his childhood trauma (EMDR is great!), and moved into a healthy LTR. As far as career, I don‘t know if he‘s ruthless enough to make it to the top of science academia, tbh. I think he‘s plenty intelligent, which was really frustrating with those microaggressions, but I don‘t think he‘s suited to the politics ⬇️ 2y
Megabooks @Reggie ⬆️ of university life and I think that‘s going to stall his career at a second-tier university. But I think a less demanding university will also allow his emotional life to stabilize, which will help his LTR flourish! 2y
Megabooks @Reggie the other thing I can see him doing is working in private biotech. He may enjoy that more than academia. 🤔 I keep thinking about this one. 2y
Reggie it sticks to you, right? I read this the week George Floyd was murdered so it sat heavy on me all through last summer. I too think he works in a lab somewhere. I wanna say food science but who knows. Also, I‘m glad you know he doesn‘t stay with Miller. I think about that passage where he knows Miller didn‘t stand up for him. And how it only takes that crevasse in a well to do heart, where racism can grow. 2y
Megabooks @Reggie oh gosh. What a week to read this! I think food science would be good, too. My uncle worked for Nestle Purina in St. Louis for years in that job. Kansas City area is a huge place for veterinary startups, and I think he‘d fit well in that world. It‘s a great space for innovation right now. (I‘m a vet who has worked in industry.) I think he was on his way out of negative patterns in his personal life. I‘m hopeful for him for sure! (edited) 2y
87 likes3 stack adds14 comments
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Megabooks
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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#CurrentlyReading

Anyone else starting their weekend curled up with some good books?

Megabooks @Hooked_on_books the linked short stories in Filthy Animals have the same feel as Real Life now that I‘ve read both, FWIW. 2y
Hooked_on_books Nice! That‘s great to know. 2y
BarbaraBB You‘ve started the other Taylor! Is it as good? 2y
See All 6 Comments
Megabooks @BarbaraBB just finished it! I‘m still processing, and while they‘re both good, Filthy Animals is a half star better. It could be that I prefer short stories because there are definitely some similar themes between RL and the connected stories, as they both deal bisexuality, control vs release in bed, and complicated friendship dynamics (in regards to race/sexuality) in a university setting. 🤷🏻‍♀️ what can I say? I like brevity! 😁 (edited) 2y
BarbaraBB You‘re so eloquent. Thanks! I must get to Real Life soon! 2y
Megabooks @BarbaraBB I predict you will enjoy it! It could possibly be 4⭐️ for you. (FA was 4.25 for me and RL was 3.75. I think you will split the difference with RL.) It just handles some thought-provoking themes in a very interesting way. Definitely worthy of its Booker nomination. And thank you for the compliment! 💜 (edited) 2y
74 likes6 comments
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kathytrithardt
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Here's my TBR for the upcoming 48 hour #QueerBlackathon, happening June 19th-20th. #Blackathon

[ID: Two books sit cover up in front of a mirror. On the left, a green cover with a black figured; the title is The Gospel of Breaking, by Jillian Christmas. On the right, an orange cover featuring black slashes and a bird; the title is Real Life, by Brandon Taylor.]

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erzascarletbookgasm
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

This novel‘s pacing and language is beautiful. There‘s misery, ugliness, but not too horrific to read. The glimpses of Wallace‘s past expertly weaved in; the depiction of loneliness, isolation, desire is raw and unshrinking. It‘s infuriating to read of the humiliation, and pain that Wallace suppressed but I was glad to see some kindness, and perhaps hope. I wish him well in his life.

CarolynM I liked this one a lot too🙂 2y
Reggie Where is Wallace in 10 years? 2y
erzascarletbookgasm I don‘t know, Reggie. I try to be optimistic…I want him to be able to find some peace with himself..completed his program, moved to another place, find his own people and some true friends. @Reggie 2y
Reggie 😊that‘s great. A lot of people mentioned therapy. But when he said let‘s go feed the wolf to Miller after their altercation I feel like I knew he‘d be ok. Also, he doesn‘t end up with Miller. I think he‘s in a lab somewhere and has a Black bf. Thanks for the answer. 2y
erzascarletbookgasm I never thought of therapy, if he does that, I hope it helps. 😊 I also want him to break off with Miller, and get away from those toxic people. @Reggie 2y
65 likes3 stack adds5 comments
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erzascarletbookgasm
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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I was planning to read Orkney for our #HolidayEscape then I realised my loan on the tagged book is due soon. 🤦‍♀️
I‘m only two chapters in, and I have a feeling it‘s going to stick with me for some time. Seems like a good pick with it being Pride Month (though unofficially outside US). 🌈

Reggie I loved this book. 2y
erzascarletbookgasm It fares well on Litsy! @Reggie 2y
72 likes2 comments
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perfectlywinged
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

I loved this slow moving but heart wrenching character study of a black graduate student at a Midwestern university. Beautiful.

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Pinta
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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^^ friendship as comfort & cult, trauma as common currency

“Miller laughs at him. The nervousness abates, and so does the nausea, the churning sense of being gossiped about. You have to learn to trust people, to believe that they mean you no harm, Wallace thinks.”

A lot of reading of facial expressions, laughs, physical cues, a narrator who, like Wallace, can‘t stop searching under the surface for intent.

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Pinta
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

A campus novel over a late summer Midwestern weekend: gossipy grad students wrestling w/ ambition, motivation, trust, work, loyalty, attraction. Wallace=outsider in his friend group, dealing w/ subtle but steady racism & tokenism plus his own self-sabotage & fear of intimacy. The bully‘s confession in Miller. Style somewhat presentational & sensational but characters very much alive. A deep ache in this book. A longing to know what to want. 2020

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HeatherBookNerd
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

We follow Wallace and his circle of grad student friends over the course of an emotionally tumultuous weekend. Wallace‘s particular intersection of identities - being black, gay, and poor - sets him apart, and leaves him often feeling isolated, angry, and misunderstood. This is intensified by some recently uprooted past trauma. Taylor delivers a remarkable debut and paints a vivid emotional landscape for his characters.

43 likes1 stack add
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Centique
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Oh my god @Reggie this book! I haven‘t read a contemporary novel with this kind of intimacy and intensity for a long time - it was like a shot of adrenaline that woke me right up. First of all, Brandon Taylor has bucketloads of talent. So many passages that stung with their hurt. Raw and yet sharply drawn with no wasted words.
This is intense stuff. ⬇️

Centique You‘re in the head of someone who has been traumatised. And continues to be abused through the micro aggressions (and frankly macro aggressions) of racism. This will make you want to punch people.
Complex, fraught, thought provoking - I‘m not going to stop thinking about this one.
2y
HeatherBookNerd Reading it now. So good. 2y
batsy Excellent review. Taylor's style is impeccable. I still think about Wallace and wonder how he's doing... 2y
See All 22 Comments
Reggie I‘m so glad you loved this book, Paula! Taylor‘s writing is something special and I can‘t wait to read what else he puts out. I ask this of everyone who‘s read it. Where do you see Wallace in 10 years? 2y
Centique @batsy thank you Suba. He will stay in my mind too I know 💕 2y
Centique @Reggie hi Reggie! I thought he had a couple of break through moments towards the end. That conversation with Brigit when he realises she is victimised too. And when he is feeding Miller and remembering his father feeding him good food. I think/hope he will deliver himself from this he‘ll he‘s in, leave the lab, find some other work, a place in the world that‘s a little better. 🤞🤞 2y
Centique @Reggie just thinking that food plays an important role in this book. I was gutted that nobody would eat those meatballs he made when he first me the group. It‘s his way of giving love and feeling accepted I think. 2y
Reggie @Centique yeah, when he says let‘s go feed the wolf, something clicked for me that he was gonna be ok. And I also wanted to punch people in here for him. Lol. I still think he works in a science setting and he ends up with someone who is Black. 2y
Kalalalatja Great review! 👏👏 2y
Centique @Reggie yeah I hope so too. Just going to have to imagine his world getting so much better. 💕 2y
Centique @Reggie thank you Katja! 2y
Hooked_on_books Yes! This book is so good! 2y
TrishB Great review ❤️ 2y
Tanisha_A Superb review! Also, hi! 😊 2y
erzascarletbookgasm Brilliant review. I can‘t wait for my library copy to arrive. 😊 2y
Centique @TrishB @erzascarletbookgasm thanks guys! 😘😘 2y
Centique @Tanisha_A hi Tanisha! How is married life going? Arohanui to you both 💕💕 2y
rohit-sawant Terrific review! 2y
Tanisha_A @Centique Thankeeee! ❤️ Hahaha, married life is good so far, now getting back to the routine - working and then looking forward to the weekends! 😁 2y
Rissreads I think I need to bump this one up my reading list! 2y
ClairesReads Looooooved this so much 2y
Centique @ClairesReads I‘m still thinking about this one. 😍 2y
85 likes4 stack adds22 comments
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Kshakal
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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My library sponsored another wonderful virtual book discussion last night!!

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Chelsea.Poole
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

A little book with a lot of feelings. Wallace‘s life has been difficult. Struggles begin in his childhood but still follow him throughout his life into graduate school, where he joins a group of friends but doesn‘t feel like he really belongs. This “outsider” feeling readers experience through Wallace‘s story, as a gay black man, is quietly heartbreaking. There‘s a passage near the end about apathy I adored and will remember from this novel.

Reggie Where do you think Wallace is in 10 years? 2y
Chelsea.Poole @Reggie ugh...Would love to know...that would‘ve been a great epilogue! I hope happy and in a lab. 2y
100 likes1 stack add2 comments
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ncsufoxes
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Brandon Taylor is a very talented writer, his use of language is so beautiful. Although this was a book full of difficult subject matter it was so good. In a book I‘m reading for a research methods class it suggested that reading good literature or novels can help you to become a better writer (although writing journal articles is very methodical). One more book off my #bookspinbingo board

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 2y
13 likes1 comment
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Chelsea.Poole
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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#audiobaking lemon blueberry brownies 🫐 🍋 for my friend‘s birthday celebration this evening. (Socially distanced with only 4 of us, of course 😊)
This book 😔— I‘m about 36% in and it‘s already pretty rough for Wallace, as a gay black man in a science lab and within his group of friends.

Nute Purchased this book in paperback yesterday. Gonna look for a recipe for those brownies today and make them tomorrow. You have laid out my entire weekend, Ms. Chelsea!🤗 2y
Jas16 Lemon blueberry brownies?! Sounds amazing and like something I very much need in my life. 2y
Chelsea.Poole @Nute 😊💕 these “brownies” certainly did not disappoint!! Even better with the lemon glaze on top!! And good luck with this title too! I‘m enjoying it 📖 2y
Chelsea.Poole @Jas16 I highly recommend them!! 😋 I‘m a big lemon person though too! 2y
98 likes3 stack adds5 comments
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kathedron
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Interesting interview with Brandon Taylor on Hattie Crisell's "In Writing" podcast on Spotify.

(8000 words per SESSION?! I'm delighted if I get down 8000 words of chuntering shite per WEEK.)

38 likes1 comment
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kathedron
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Oof, Wallace! ? I got so riled at all the shit he had to deal with. The lab stuff was deplorable but the constant oblivious slights from his white friends (who habitually resort to silence and laughter to traverse moments that are a humiliation to him) were worse. Each time he said, "It's fine", my heart sank. I really wanted things to work out for him, but doubted that they would. The closing chapter made the whole thing all the more poignant.

rockpools Aww, Wallace 💔 It‘s really not fine. 2y
Reggie I love asking this question so here goes- Where do you see Wallace in 10 years? 2y
kathedron @Reggie Oh, that's a tricky one! I think he completed grad school and then moved away and is working in a lab and watching his colleagues get promoted over him. I hope he learnt some compassion for himself, and that he's got a man who thinks the world of him. 2y
Chelsea.Poole I love this cover art version! 2y
40 likes4 comments
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steffakish
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Mehso-so

I did enjoy this book but I struggled a bit to get through it. It‘s one of those books that I just wasn‘t excited to read but the writing was great! Wallace the protagonist is someone most of us could relate to in some ways. That isolation felt between friends and other relationships as a queer black man in the Midwest was so relatable and heart wrenching.

#happyreading #blackhistorymonth

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susurran
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Indeed.

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Reviewsbylola
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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I‘m hoping to get to a good portion of these for #blackhistorymonth. Any in there that I absolutely cannot miss?

Melismatic Caste for sure!! 2y
Amandajoy So many books so little time! 2y
vlwelser Caste! 2y
See All 14 Comments
Librariana I hope you can get to most of these. All look like outstanding choices! 2y
Reviewsbylola 🤞🏻🤞🏻 I plan on listening to the audio for Stamped and The New Jim Crow so that will help! @Librariana 2y
JamieArc Caste might be big, but it surprised me by being a really engaging read and quicker than I expected, and I really liked Real Life. 2y
Reggie Real Life. It‘s really good. And most of the people on here who‘ve read it liked it. 2y
sarahbarnes Real Life and Stamped! 2y
LeahBergen I read A Lesson Before Dying years ago and remember loving it. 2y
Kalalalatja I‘ve only read Real Life, but it is so good 👌 2y
batsy I'm embarrassed to say that Real Life is the only one I've read, but it's excellent. 2y
mcctrish I listened to Caste and it was phenomenal. Whether you read/listen this month, you (and everyone ) should at some point 2y
84 likes1 stack add14 comments
review
Graywacke
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Of the seven 2020 Booker Longlist books I‘ve listened to, this, written in five weeks, is the only one I‘ve really liked. It‘s depressing but terrific, especially in the layers and how he handles them. He mixes looks at discrete racism, at queerness, at grad school blues... and at human contradictions. And he captures Wallace‘s deep need for intimacy as he firmly represses his own emotions, or any self expression.

BarbaraBB Wonderful review. I just bought it and am looking forward to it now! 2y
Graywacke @BarbaraBB oh good. Hope you enjoy. Well, I mean, maybe not exactly in the happy sense of enjoy. 2y
CarolynM Great review. I agree, wonderful but depressing. The repressed emotion and refusal to communicate thing has come up in a lot of books by young authors that I've read in the last year. I find it interesting and concerning at the same time. And I wonder how real it is - are a lot of young people feeling this way, or is it just the "in" issue to tackle in fiction? If it is real, is it a new phenomenon, or has it just not been written about much? 2y
See All 7 Comments
Graywacke Huh. Wow. Fascinating comment and I‘m wondering too, now. (edited) 2y
JennyM I didn‘t know it was written in five weeks 😯 I loved it and am now even more impressed! 2y
batsy What @JennyM said. I didn't know that, either! I'm so impressed and also maybe jealous 😆💜 2y
Graywacke @JennyM @batsy his Wikipedia page makes that claim. (Personally I think it‘s more impressive to say “this took me ten years to write”. We want blood, sweat and tears in our literature. 🙂 But also I‘m impressed by this. Fun fact to dwell on... ) 2y
46 likes7 comments
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Hooked_on_books
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Real Life centers on Wallace, a black, gay man who is struggling with racism and surviving in an all-white setting while trying to figure out his future. I love that he is in grad school in the biological sciences and the lab setting that gives us. This book kept me on my toes in the best way—things would happen I wasn‘t expecting, and the ending doesn‘t resolve the situation. I want to read more about Wallace! This is really good.

JennyM So glad you enjoyed it too, Holly. I wish I‘d know you were reading it as you could have joined for a buddy read with myself and @CarolynM ❤️ 2y
Hooked_on_books @JennyM That would have been fun! I‘ve enjoyed the buddy reads I have done. I actually wasn‘t expecting to get this when I did, as my library hold appeared to be several weeks out, then all of a sudden it was mine! I love it when that happens, though it doesn‘t allow for planning. 😆 2y
batsy I want a follow-up novel about how Wallace is doing ❤️ 2y
Hooked_on_books @batsy I would so read that! 2y
55 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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CarolynM
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

A wonderful book. I was really moved by Wallace, his isolation was heartbreaking. The almost total lack of empathy of the people around him and the sheer injustice of their attitudes toward him made me really angry. The lab politics was bad enough, but those so-called friends... Ugh! A little more in spoiler comment. Thanks for sharing this reading experience with me @JennyM

CarolynM I understood Wallace's apathy, but I really wanted him to break out of it, at least with Brigit, and say how he really felt. The explosion of his pent up anger at the end was disturbing but kind of cathartic as well. But I don't think that relationship was ever going to be a healthy one and I hope he got out of it fast! 2y
JennyM @CarolynM it was so good. I‘m so grateful that you sent me it and I could read alongside you 😘 2y
Reggie Where do you think Wallace is in 10 years? 2y
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CarolynM @JennyM I had intended us to interact more as we read, but I found once I'd got far enough into it to have something to say I didn't want to put it down long enough to prepare a post! I'm very glad you liked it too😘 2y
CarolynM @Reggie If he stayed with Miller I think he would be dead in 10 years. I hope he got out of that relationship fast & found some new friends. I'd like to think he stuck with the program, Dana got found out (maybe by the new lab head, maybe because W turned the tables & accused her of racism) & he found a satisfying job somewhere more congenial but, idk, I think it's more likely he gave up wound up in a minimum wage job somewhere remote. 2y
batsy Great review. And a tough book to read. I just wanted to protect Wallace and make sure he's OK. 2y
LeeRHarry @JennyM Glad you both enjoyed it - I really did too and Wallace was such a great character, I really felt for him. 2y
LeeRHarry @JennyM I have Burnt Sugar if either of your guys would like it to continue your Booker shortlist reading 😊 2y
JennyM @LeeRHarry @carolynm - I just picked it up from the library this week. Have either of you read it yet? I‘ve only heard great things xx 2y
LeeRHarry @JennyM I have read it and it wasn‘t a favourite unfortunately- I will be interested in hearing what you think 😊 2y
ephemeralwaltz @LeeRHarry Burnt Sugar wasn‘t a favorite of mine either! :/ 2y
ephemeralwaltz Loved Real Life!! So good but so tough 2y
Graywacke Wallace is a tough one. I think he managed Miller and the broke it off friendly, he finishes, gets a boring job working for a racist boss and Dana - oye - evil Dana self destructs when she finds she‘s lacking someone to blame. (Ok, that was cathartic, at least the Dana part). I was struck how easy it was for him to get in a dangerous relationship with Miller. 2y
Rissreads This is on my list! 2y
66 likes14 comments
review
JennyM
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

An absolute beauty of a book that I feel deserves all the hype. The author touched on so many issues in a deft and tender way. And his portrayal of graduate life was, well, very real life! Thanks so much for reading this alongside me @CarolynM and for gifting me this gorgeous copy.

Hooked_on_books I‘m about 3/4 through this one and I completely agree! It‘s so good. 2y
Reggie Where do you think Wallace is in 10 years? 2y
Kalalalatja I‘m so glad you liked it, it is wonderful ❤️ 2y
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JennyM @Reggie ooo, good question, Reggie. I will reply in a spoiler 2y
JennyM @Reggie he didn‘t get the glittering research postdocs he thought he wanted, but he is still in academia teaching at a community college. And he‘s bloody great at his job - the students love him. After having lots of therapy, he‘s in a much better place now. He doesn‘t see any of his old lab buddies and, although he thinks of them at times, he doesn‘t miss them. He‘s found some peace ❤️❤️❤️ Can you tell I feel protective of him?! 😁 2y
CarolynM I hope you're right about 10 years on. I'm not so optimistic. Thanks again for the buddy read😘 2y
batsy @JennyM @Reggie I love this answer! ❤️ 2y
LeeRHarry @JennyM love this answer 😊 2y
JennyM @CarolynM @batsy @LeeRHarry I can‘t let myself think he won‘t be ok. Xx 2y
ephemeralwaltz Yes yes yes! 2y
Cathythoughts Nice review! I read it last year. ‘Real‘ is definitely the word to describe this one 2y
Reggie I love that you care so much for him, Jenny, and I love that you know Miller is no good for him, Carolyn. I think he was kind of born through fire that weekend and ends up in a research job doing well, even keeping in touch with that mentor friend of his. I can‘t remember his name. I ask this question a lot to people a lot and almost everyone has said therapy and I never thought about it. How funny. Thanks for the great answers. @JennyM @CarolynM (edited) 2y
79 likes13 comments
quote
steffakish
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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“I don‘t know, your parents aren‘t people until they‘re suffering. They aren‘t people until they‘re gone.”

Wow I felt this deeply 🤍✨

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JennyM
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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“Money is always on their minds...They discuss the lives and fares of faculty the way one might track the paths of minor planets. Careers move in orbits, fixed by certain factors. One typically stays at the level of their graduate or postdoc institution, or goes one step lower...Fellowships lead to good postdocs, good postdocs lead to good grants, good grants lead to faculty positions....It all rises and falls on money”.

So very true!!!☝️

Kalalalatja This was really good! 2y
batsy This novel kept delivering tiny little bombs of insight. 2y
JennyM @Kalalalatja @batsy I‘m enjoying it so much - I don‘t want it to end xx (edited) 2y
CarolynM I'm enjoying it although I haven't got very far. Hoping to have more reading time tomorrow🙂 2y
JennyM @CarolynM so glad you are enjoying it, too. Great writing. Xx 2y
51 likes5 comments
blurb
CarolynM
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Just getting started on this one @JennyM

Reviewsbylola @MicheleinPhilly got me excited for this one! 2y
JennyM I‘ve started and really enjoying it. I shall post a quote later. Hope you like it as well xx 2y
ephemeralwaltz I read this in a day. It‘s marvelous ✨ 2y
75 likes3 comments
review
MicheleinPhilly
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Oof, talk about a gut punch. Wallace‘s loneliness and vulnerability were palpable as were his experiences as a gay, black man in a mostly white, mostly hetero graduate program in the Midwest. There is some HEAVY content including descriptions of sexual assault so CW. But Taylor is a monumental talent and I can‘t wait to read whatever else he chooses to write next. 4🌟

Kalalalatja Gut punch is so the right description! 2y
MicheleinPhilly Oh and thanks again @TrishB! 😘 Perhaps I should read the books you sent for my birthday in 2019 next. 😉 2y
batsy Great review. Gut punch is indeed what it is. 2y
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TrishB Great review 👍🏻 and glad you ‘enjoyed‘ it. I got to 41% and put it in hibernation, was having too rough a time elsewhere. I do intend to finish at some point though. 2y
MicheleinPhilly @TrishB Now I‘m reading a frothy British rom-com to recover. I think I‘m going to introduce a pattern: serious literary fiction, serial killers, serious literary fiction, serial killers, repeat ad infinitum. 2y
TrishB Sounds like a plan 👍🏻 2y
Reviewsbylola @emilyhaldi just gave me this one. I‘m kind of scared of it. 🙈 2y
MicheleinPhilly @Reviewsbylola It‘s not an easy read but it is beautiful IMO. 2y
emilyhaldi I only got about 15 pages in 😬... something about the writing style really grated on my nerves. Hope you like it better!! @Reviewsbylola 2y
MicheleinPhilly @emilyhaldi I tried the first 10 or 15 pages last year and thought, “Nope. Not right now.” For some reason it worked much better for me a few weeks ago. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 2y
emilyhaldi That happens to me all the time! @MicheleinPhilly maybe I will try again once @Reviewsbylola is finished... 😁 2y
61 likes11 comments
review
CortexVortex
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Brandon Taylor took me back to grad school and let me experience a weekend through the eyes and mind of Wallace, a gay black student from Alabama in a midwestern city. Real Life contains authentic characters who have baggage, and the relationships between partners, friends, and coworkers are complicated.

18 likes3 stack adds
blurb
MicheleinPhilly
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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It‘s a cold, grey, rainy day and we just ended a dumpster fire of a year. I probably should have picked something a bit sunnier for my first read of 2021 but that wouldn‘t have been on brand.

BarbaraBB You are so funny 😂 I hope your real life will be off brand this year 🤍 2y
LeahBergen 😂😂 2y
Reggie Lololol here‘s to a better year! 🍷 2y
Tanisha_A 🤭 To a better year! 2y
56 likes4 comments
blurb
Graywacke
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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I‘m feeling the pain of grad school in this 1st chapter, deep dark memories creeping up. (*shiver*). I probably should feel more about life decisions, and about race and homosexuality. A good start to my next 2020 Booker longlist book.

JamieArc I had the same experience experiencing some grad school PTSD with this one. 2y
BarbaraBB This feels heavy. I want to read it too. 2y
Graywacke @JamieArc yeah... that. 😐 2y
Graywacke @BarbaraBB it‘s fun so far, except for the grad school flashbacks and how everyone‘s under that load. It‘s not exactly “heavy” yet in chapter one. 2y
33 likes4 comments
blurb
JennyM
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Eeek...I‘ve been wanting to read this but my library has a huge wait. So happy to have my very own copy! Thankyou so much, @CarolynM Sending lots of festive cheer to you and yours 🎄😘🎅

Cinfhen Awwww!!! That‘s great @CarolynM Enjoy, Jenny ❤️ 2y
batsy Lovely! I thought it was such a good read. Hope you find it rewarding. 2y
Kalalalatja Wonderful! Enjoy ☺️ 2y
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erzascarletbookgasm ❤️❤️ 2y
Reggie This was sooo good. Hope you like it! 2y
JennyM @Cinfhen @batsy @Kalalalatja @erzascarletbookgasm @Reggie I‘m super excited to read it. Doubly special to get it from a litten. ❤️ 2y
LeeRHarry Great choice 😊 2y
CarolynM Glad it's reached you 🙂 How about a buddy read sometime soon? 2y
Centique I‘m looking forward to my hold coming in on this. Gosh your photo looks lovely with the colours of the tree Jenny! 2y
JennyM @Centique the lights really made the blue pop on the cover. A bit of special Xmas sparkle ✨ 2y
JennyM @CarolynM I would love that, Carolyn. Thankyou. Happy to start whenever you would like to 😘 2y
CarolynM Do you know how long you're likely to be waiting for your hold @Centique ? Maybe we could buddy read as a threesome. 2y
Centique @CarolynM I just checked my library and I don‘t have it on hold sorry! I got confused with another @Reggie recommendation that I did put on hold (Memorial) Sorry about that Carolyn and Jenny 😬 Thanks for thinking of me though! 2y
CarolynM @Centique Nevermind🙂 @JennyM I've got a couple of books I need to get read this week, but maybe sometime next week, if that's not rushing you too much? 2y
JennyM @CarolynM @Centique lol - I do that all the time, Paula! My actual library holds are always a bit of a surprise 😄 Next week sounds great, Carolyn. Give me a shout when you‘re ready to start. We will miss you, Paula 😘 2y
CarolynM Would you mind if we put off buddy reading until the new year? I've been socialising like a mad woman over the last week (making up for lost time) so I'm well behind where I thought I'd be and we're going to Adelaide for Christmas after all so the next week is a write off too. 2y
JennyM @CarolynM of course. I‘m so glad you are enjoying being out and about again. We can read this in the new year when you have more time 😘 2y
63 likes18 comments
review
AlizaApp
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Wow wow wow. This was possibly my favorite novel of 2020. A black gay man from the south in grad school for biochemistry in a Midwestern college town has to reassess some of his judgments after a weekend full of surprising interactions.

review
vivastory
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Wallace, biochem grad student at a Midwestern University, meets with four friends on a Friday evening. The book is comprised of the events of one pivotal weekend in Wallace's life. As it is largely set in what one might assume is an enlightened & liberal environment: academia, one might expect a gay Black character such as Wallace to be exposed to fewer prejudices. Not so. Wallace encounters microaggressions, attempts at limiting agency,👇

vivastory lectures on personal responsibility & gratitude, etc. As I mentioned in a previous post, Taylor's style can be laden with similes at times, but I found that RL managed to hold up under the weight of his style. I loved this book for the complex handling of race, the quiet portrait of dramatic moments in life, the way Taylor transitions from scene to scene. If I have a complaint, it's that I wish that Wallace had a few more flaws. (edited) 2y
vivastory He def feels like a fully realized character, but it sometimes feels like that to gain the reader's sympathy a character's flaws are smoothed over. Why can't we have both? Still, a fantastic book. 2y
sarahbarnes Great review. Agreed, I really liked this one. 2y
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saresmoore Your review certainly makes me want to read it. 2y
Reggie Great review.... I think you might like Memorial then because both MC‘s are flawed. The author in TheReadingEnvy interview said he didn‘t want to make one person the antagonist so he made everyone really gray. Also, I ask this of everyone who reads this book. Where is Wallace in 10 years? 2y
vivastory @Reggie I will definitely be getting Memorial from BOTM in Dec. Glad to hear that the characters are a bit more gray! I like this question! Hmmm...I think he has moved back to Alabama & is teaching chemistry at a community college or high school. I think he's now in a relationship where he's happy & has started working on his personal issues. (I'm not always this optimistic 😂) 2y
Reggie Yeah, I feel like after he fights Miller and then says- let‘s go feed the wolf- I knew he was gonna be ok. For the rest of his life. Something either clicked in him or it clicked in me for him. I just felt I could breath easier in that book after that. 2y
vivastory @Reggie Exactly. Plus, how it ended with him & Miller watching the sunrise on the rooftop. A hopeful note. 2y
LeahBergen Oh, you‘ve definitely piqued my interest! 2y
ephemeralwaltz So good!😭😭 2y
84 likes3 stack adds10 comments
blurb
Oryx
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Starting this this evening.

As an aside, this is a mega good quality paperback (as in the quality of the paper... 🧐🤓) which led me to wonder who the publisher was. And it's Daunt Books (Marylebone) - I had no idea they also published. I'll be exploring that later.

squirrelbrain I‘ll be interested to hear your thoughts! 2y
TrishB Me too! 2y
Oryx @squirrelbrain I didn't love it - I finished it at least though 😊 2y
squirrelbrain Pretty much my thoughts too Emma.... 2y
58 likes4 comments
review
Abailliekaras
Real Life: A Novel | Brandon Taylor
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Pickpick

Loved this immersive & true novel. It juxtaposes Wallace‘s daily life with the looming issue of his self-denial. Pitch-perfect observations of student life: idle moments & conversations, fluidity & mood swings. They operate on the surface, not facing problems & not yet starting careers. So then, what is real life? Wallace‘s early trauma leaves him vigilant, nihilistic & afraid of the world. He can‘t stay, or move. Poetic, on point, heartbreaking.

Reggie I ask this of almost all the reviews on this book but where do you think Wallace is in 10 years? Also, great review! 2y
batsy "He can't stay, or move" captures it perfectly. Lovely review. 2y
Abailliekaras @batsy thank you! ☺️ @Reggie Great question! I‘m hoping he moves perhaps to a town where he can be himself, even a lab with a more enlightened boss would be a big help. I‘m not sure if he stays in science. If he can hold on and steady himself, he‘ll eventually find his people & his groove. But he‘s vulnerable. 💔 2y
ClairesReads Loved this too- a great review! 2y
32 likes5 comments