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Mike_W

Mike_W

Joined April 2017

review
Mike_W
The Gustav Sonata | Rose Tremain
Pickpick

An interesting look at some of the ethical questions posed during WWII, The Gustav Sonata was a read that treads familiar water, but manages to do so in a fresh manner. Of course, it tackles more than just ethics, hitting at love, loss, fear and family dysfunction among many other topics making for a worthwhile reading experience.

review
Mike_W
Hag-Seed | Margaret Atwood
Pickpick

From the heartbroken and angry Felix, to the brave twenty something starving actress he casts as Miranda, to the varied criminals who take on the play's famous roles, there is someone and something for most readers here and enough laughs to balance out the remembrances of the tragic loss of a child. Hag Seed certainly does its part in justifying the creation of the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

review
Mike_W
Behold the Dreamers | Imbolo Mbue
Pickpick

Mbue has crafted both an interesting and timely debut novel. At times the seeming simplicity with which she approaches the novel's most complex issues is startling, but overall I liked that technique. Seeing and feeling the various dilemmas from the perspective of people fresh faced and hopeful versus those cynical and defeated made for a more productive study of the issues and led me to better understand the complex emotions being communicated.

review
Mike_W
Moonglow | Michael Chabon
Pickpick

What most affected me was the painful and sincere feeling portrayal of his (Chabon's) grandmother's mental illness. Especially since her struggles occurred in a time when such illness wasn't so easy to talk about. I sensed devotion and respect from the author both for his grandmother and her eccentricities and his grandfather and his noble handling of their private pains.

review
Mike_W
Pickpick

A great strength of the novel is the inclusion of magical realism via the journal entries of men and women with scientific minds. These scenes evoke deeply imbedded human anxieties and the reader shares in the terror produced. While this is no horror novel, Ivey has created scenes far more frightening than many novels that pass for horror. Think X-files, set 110 years earlier and you'll have an inkling of what I'm getting at.

review
Mike_W
The Nix | Nathan Hill
Pickpick

Hill's ability to take the funny, the beautiful, the tragic and the melancholy in life and tie it in to the overall human experience is astounding. If you read to feel human, if you read to try and make some sense out of what you get up every day and experience, then The Nix is for you. The Nix is what's right with fiction and if you're reading this, I hope it's your next read because damn if I don't want some more people to talk with about it.

Redheadrambles I loved this one so much, undoubtedly it will make my top books of 2017 list 3y
2 likes1 comment
review
Mike_W
Umami | Laia Jufresa
Mehso-so

Of the novel's many narrators, I most enjoyed the thoughts of the retired professor, a widower whose narration mostly related to his deceased wife and the time they had spent together. His musings on time, love and purpose were at times quite profound. A good novel for pondering some of life's important questions, but the lack of differentiation between its several voices felt like a significant weakness.

review
Mike_W
Mehso-so

Johnson's debut is often compared to Ng's Everything I never Told You and while the comparison is fair, I don't think it does Johnson any favors. Ng's novel felt plausible while Johnson's tends toward the dramatic, cramming ten years worth of scandals into the experience of a few classes of high schoolers. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth has its moments, but overall tended toward the improbable with characters who were too often unlikeable.

review
Mike_W
My Struggle: Book 4 | Karl Ove Knausgaard
Pickpick

True to form, KO was so blunt about his fears and shortcomings (no pun intended but I guess that's a spoiler), that I had to read on just to see how things turned out with each new romantic pursuit. The dramatic irony produced (he builds a strong case each time for impending failures) created a schadenfreude that was difficult to resist.

review
Mike_W
All the King's Men (Restored) | Robert Penn Warren
Pickpick

Reading Warren's prose is a constant reminder that he was primarily a poet. He writes with a mesmerizing grace and clarity that proves beautiful and meaningful through the entire read. It is not difficult to see how this became one of America's great novels and it goes without saying that it is well worth reading. The only question is which version? That one is up to you.

review
Mike_W
The Refugees | Viet Thanh Nguyen
Pickpick

This is good fiction featuring characters who, among other things, are refugees. At a time when fear and loathing seem at the forefront of discussion as it concerns refugees, Nguyen's characters and stories are strong reminders that humanity shares the same general longings, desires and angsts and that, in the words of David Foster Wallace, "fiction's about what it is to be a...human being."

review
Mike_W
Universal Harvester | John Darnielle
Pickpick

After building suspense, the novel takes a turn toward the philosophical as the story moves backward and forward in time with themes of loss, memory, loneliness and belonging. I like it when a novel takes me places I had neither expected nor intended to go and here is where Universal Harvester succeeds. It's thought provoking, strange and outré. I thought I'd stood in line to enter a haunted house, but I was actually headed to Wonderland.

Redheadrambles Co-incidentally I have this next to read after Lincoln in the Bardo 3y
2 likes1 comment
review
Mike_W
Lincoln in the Bardo | George Saunders
Pickpick

Saunders fans will be strengthened in that fandom. Those new to Saunders, but used to alternative structures may soon count themselves soldiers in his army. But, if you‘re one who prefers a traditional structure then Lincoln in the Bardo may feel like nails on a chalkboard. Fight through it. The novel may yet become for you sweet susurrations of humanistic glory that leave you wet eyed and wondering where Mr. Saunders has been all your life.

Redheadrambles Wowsers that's a cool wee blurb. I have never read Saunders before but rapidly adding his books to my list 3y
2 likes1 comment